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close this bookIn Place of the Forest: Environmental and Socio-economic Transformation in Borneo and the Eastern Malay Peninsula (UNU, 1990, 310 pages)
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View the documentAbbreviations and glossary
Open this folder and view contentsIntroduction and acknowledgements
Open this folder and view contentsPart 1 : Background and the course of events
Open this folder and view contentsPart 2 : Issues of endangerment and criticality
Open this folder and view contentsAppendix : A discussion of environmental and PROCEZ criticality
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Note from the editors

This book is the second in a series from the United Nations University (UNU) research project, Critical Zones in Global Environmental Change, itself part of the UNU programme on the Human and Policy Dimensions of Global Change. Both endeavours explore the complex linkages between human activities and the environment.

The project views the human causes of and responses to major changes in biogeochemical systems - global environmental change broadly defined - as consequences of cumulative and synergistic actions (or inactions) of individuals, groups, and states, occurring in their local and regional settings. The study examines and compares nine regional cases in which large-scale, human-induced environmental changes portend to threaten the sustainability of an existing system. The aim is to define common lessons about regional trajectories and dynamics of change as well as the types of human actions that breed environmental criticality and endangerment, thereby contributing to global environmental change. The overall results of the comparative analysis are found in Regions at Risk, the initial volume in this series.

In Place of the Forest constitutes the case referred to as the eastern Sundaland region of South-East Asia in the comparative volume. Long-term changes in land use and land cover show up in major deforestation by the timber industry's mining of one of earth's oldest and most species-diverse tropical ecosystems and in the allegedly "unsustainable" or "environmentally inappropriate" cultivation practices attributed to massive infusions of poor smallholders. But this book challenges common claims about both the sources and the long-term consequences of various human activities and offers several significant insights. Eastern Sundaland emerges as a complex mosaic of subregional circumstances - forces at play in particular environments, physical consequences of these forces, and human impacts on and responses to the changes. Moreover, regional dynamics cannot be understood in isolation: most deforestation in eastern Sundaland is traceable to the pervasiveness of international demand for and access to the resources of the region.

Finally, whither criticality? Here, the volume argues that the region in general has not yet reached criticality, although considerable variation colours the subregional trajectories of change, and considerable uncertainty clouds the path that lies ahead for the region as a whole.

Titles currently available:

- Regions at Risk: Comparisons of Threatened Environments
- In Place of the Forest: Environmental and Socio-economic Transformation in Borneo and the Eastern Malay Peninsul
- Amazonia: Resiliency and Dynamism of the Land and Its People

Abbreviations and glossary

adat customary law
alang-alang Imperata cylindrica grassland (Indonesia)
BAPPENAS Badan Perancanaan Pembangunan Nasional (National Planning Development Agency, Indonesia)
BPS Biro Pusat Statistik (Central Bureau of Statistics, Indonesia)
CO2 carbon dioxide
cumecs cubic metres per second
damar resin
dusun orchard
ENSO El Niño-Southern Oscillation
FAO Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations
FELDA Federal Land Development Authority (Malaysia)
GDP Gross Domestic Product
HPH Hak Pengusahan Hutan (Timber Concession)
HPHH Hak Pemungutan Hasil Hutan (Forest Products Collection Right)
HTI Hutan Tanaman Industri (industrial forest estate)
IBPGR International Board for Plant Genetic Resources
ITTC International Tropical Timber Council
ITTO International Tropical Timber Organization
IUCN International Union for Conservation of Nature
kerangas heath forest
ladang dry field
lalang Imperata cylindrica grassland (Malaysia)
LIPI Lembaga Ilmu Pengetahuan Indonesia (Indonesian Institute of Sciences)
LNG liquid natural gas
MOF Ministry of Forestry (Indonesia)
mre milled rice equivalent
NRMP Natural Resources Management Project (Indonesia)
OECD Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development
paya swamp (rice field)
pH measure of soil acidity
PIR Perkebun Inti Rakyat (smallholder cash-crop scheme)
PLI poverty line income measure (Malaysia)
PROCEZ United Nations University Project on Critical Environmental Zones in Global Change
RePPProT Regional Physical Planning Programme for Transmigration
SALCRA Sarawak Land Consolidation and Rehabilitation Authority
sawah irrigated land/field normally used for rice
SLDB Sarawak Land Development Board
UNCED United Nations Conference on Environment and Development
USAID United States Agency for International Development
wantilan small hand-operated sawmills
WRI World Resources Institute
WWF World Wildlife Fund

A thematic book that is also a regional book

This book belongs to a series arising from the Clark University/ United Nations University Project on Critical Environmental Situations and Regions (formerly Project on Critical Environmental Zones in Global Change PROCEED; the original acronym has been retained). The theme of the series is the transition from "impoverishment," through "endangerment" toward "criticality" in the environmental condition and the human-welfare condition of selected parts of the world. Although there has been a shift of focus in the later stages of the project, as described below, this theme dominates the discussion of a book that, for this reason, is written primarily for a global rather than a regional readership.

Following the spirit of the broader project, which funded a large part of our work, our original intention was to compare the different trajectories toward "criticality," or rather the different distances travelled toward such a condition, in all those areas of Peninsular Malaysia and Borneo that were still principally under forest at the end of World War II. From the outset, however, we saw our work as a test of the concept of "criticality" rather than as a demonstration. Before we had gone far in writing, it became evident that we needed to examine earlier environmental change, and therefore to consider regions that have not been forest within modern times. Moreover, certain areas, and in particular the western side of the Malay Peninsula, have followed a very different trajectory. We therefore decided to concentrate emphasis primarily on Borneo, introducing material on the Peninsula, and principally on the eastern side of the Peninsula, more for comparison and insight than as a parallel survey. One of us had lately completed editing a book on modern transformation in Peninsular Malaysia, and this was additional reason for shifting the primary emphasis to Borneo (Brookfield, 1994d).

The original focus on the fate of land, and its people, after interference with or removal of the forest, remains and is reflected in our title. Although substantial areas of forest still persist, some of them especially in the uplands - little touched by modern development, our principal concern is with the transformed areas and with the consequences of that transformation. Our region, which we sometimes call just that, sometimes "Borneo and the Peninsula," is small by comparison with Amazonia, the topic of another book in this series, but it has become the world's largest source of tropical timber since the end of the 1970s and, although we give full place to both indigenous and new-settlement agriculture, minerals and the towns, it is the effect on the forests that is the central theme of this book. We deal with a region that has, for three decades, been a major "resource frontier" for the two countries of Indonesia and Malaysia, and our primary concern is its trajectory as a resource frontier.

None the less, a great deal of regional data is supplied and we hope that, for the island of Borneo in particular, we have provided an important contribution to a growing, but still small, general literature. Few attempts have yet been made to bring together the scattered literature on Borneo, or to place this literature in a regional and global context. We were fortunate to see one such (Padoch and Peluso, in press) in the manuscript stage, late in 1993, but have incorporated into this book only a few strands of material from that work, which was based on a conference attended by Potter.

Our central purpose is to identify those elements, in the present and immediately prospective state of the region, that can be described as impoverished, endangered, or critical, and to explain such conditions whether in strictly environmental or in wider terms. In an appendix we discuss the concepts of endangerment and criticality in general theoretical terms, and refer the reader to this discussion for a background to the concepts. From it, however, we extract the following statement:

"Since 'criticality' first came into use in the literature on global environmental change, the term has acquired a rather diverse set of meanings, as Kasperson et al. (1990) have demonstrated in a review that traces the use of the term from the early 1970s. Arguing that neither purely biophysical nor anthropocentric bases of definition capture what is involved, they initially proposed the following working definition (Kasperson et al., 1990: 16): a continuous portion of the earth's surface, preferably larger than 5,000 km2, constituting a habitat in which human occupation has so changed multiple components of the environment that the quantity and quality of those uses and/or the well-being of the population cannot be sustained, given feasible socio-economic and/or technological responses.

In their revision, however, they focus attention on stages of degradation, teeing 'e decrease in the capacity of the environment as managed to meet its user demands' (Kasperson et al., 1995: 7). They therefore distinguish between 'environmental impoverishment,' in which the trajectory in the medium to longer term threatens to narrow the range of possibilities for human use, 'environmental endangerment,' in which the trajectory threatens in the near term to preclude the continuation of current human use systems, and true 'environmental criticality,' in which this preclusion of continuation of current human use systems is immediate (Kasperson et al., 1995: 25)."

The plan of the book

In part I, we begin by outlining a background of the natural environment, placing emphasis on those processes that operate over a long time. We then narrate the course of events, beginning by offering a sketchy overview of a longer environmental history. This is followed by an account of accelerating modern change, which sets the scene for the more analytical part II, in which selected elements of possible endangerment or criticality are examined. Emphasis is placed on questions related to deforestation and environmental degradation. However, we also place emphasis on variability. Our conclusions in chapter 11 are briefly stated and practical. They may be unpopular in some quarters. They finally refer back, however, to this discussion of issues for the study of criticality in global environmental change.

Explanation and acknowledgements

Brookfield has worked in Peninsular Malaysia since 1984, and Potter has worked in Kalimantan since 1982; both Brookfield and Potter have worked in Malaysian Borneo. For most of the time, Byron was

Research Officer in the Department of Human Geography, Research School of Pacific and Asian Studies, Australian National University. She has not been able to participate in fieldwork but has been responsible for a great deal of library research and has contributed to the whole manuscript. The book was written over a period of two years under an institutional contract between the United Nations University and the Australian National University, and earlier work was assisted by contracts with Clark University, supported by the National Science Foundation/National Research Council, USA. Together, these funds have made possible substantial fieldwork, and have met the production costs of the book. Other fieldwork has been funded from a variety of sources, including the University of Adelaide and the Australian National University. Until Potter came to Canberra for a year as Visiting Fellow to the Economic History of Southeast Asia Project (ECHOSEA) 1993, the book was written by sending drafts backward and forward between Brookfield and Byron in Canberra, and Potter at the University of Adelaide. Closer proximity in the final months has eased progress toward a conclusion. We are grateful to the project leaders, and particularly B. L. Turner II, for comments on an almost complete draft of the book in late 1993. His comments have been taken into account. The valuable comments of three anonymous reviewers have also been taken into account fully in the final revision. The line drawings in the text are the contribution of Nigel Duffey and Ian Heyward of the Cartography Unit, the Australian National University. The word processing, literature search, and responsibility for all errors are our own.

Harold Brookfield
Lesley Potter
Yvonne Byron

Place and people

The region

The geological region of which Borneo and the Malay Peninsula (hereafter usually just "the Peninsula") form the north-eastern section is a partly submerged continental spur of the Eurasian plate extending south-eastward from Asia to the Wallace line, known as "Sundaland."' With associated mountain chains, it also includes Sumatra and Java, together with Bali. The eastern side of Sumatra is part of the geological core (fig. 1.1). All of this former large peninsula was dry land during the several low-sealevel periods of the Pleistocene, and the present shorelines date from only a few thousand years ago. The Peninsula has an area of 131,600 km2, and Borneo 642,000 km2, of which two-thirds form Indonesian Kalimantan and one-third the Malaysian Borneo states of Sarawak and Sabah, together with Brunei. Borneo alone is 1.7 times the size of all Japan, and slightly larger than the combined area of France, Belgium, and the Netherlands (fig. 1.2). The region has long been famous for its forests; Indonesian Borneo is estimated to have 51 per cent of Indonesia's standing stock in forests of all types, and 75 per cent of the commercially valuable dipterocarps (FAO/GOI, 1990). Together with the rest of Sundaland, Borneo and the Peninsula constitute the important forest belt of "West Malesia," with a uniquely rich and varied flora and fauna (Whitmore, 1984). The reduction of this forest forms a major focus of discussion in this book.

Fig. 1.1 Regional location Nap

Population and economy

Based on the censuses of 1990 (Indonesia) and 1991 (Malaysia), the combined population of the region was 27.4 million, with 14.7 million in the Peninsula and 12.7 million in Borneo. Within Borneo, 3.3 million lived in Malaysian Borneo, 0.3 million in Brunei, and 9.1 million in the four Indonesian provinces comprising Kalimantan. In addition, there are almost certainly more than 1 million who are unrecorded in census data, most of whom are illegal immigrants or sojourners in the Peninsula and Malaysian Borneo. Population densities for Borneo are shown in figure 1.3.

Borneo and the Peninsula are, however, surrounded by more densely populated territories. The island of Sumatra, to the west, has 33 million people. Over 107 million now live on Java, with a land area about the size of the formerly united Czechoslovakia, which had only some 15 million people. There are almost 3 million in Singapore, while Thailand and the Philippines, to the north, have populations of 56 and 65 million, respectively. Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, and the Philippines together have 326 million people. Only 8 per cent of these live in Borneo and the Peninsula, but they occupy 26 per cent of the total area.

Fig. 1.2 Location map of Borneo, showing places mentioned in the text

More than half of the 27-28 million people now resident in this region, including all of the Peninsula, are indigenous speakers of the several dialects of Malay, and most Sumatrans are also Malay. The principal minorities form two groups. Many of the Dayak people of Borneo, and the much smaller number of Orang Asli (aboriginal people) in the Peninsula, are ethnically distinct from the Malay majority, though a significant proportion of their languages are related to Malaya.² Numerically larger in Malaysia are immigrant people from China, southern and eastern Indonesia, and India. Chinese traders, miners, and settlers have been in the region for centuries, but the main modern wave of migration began only in the nineteenth century. Today, Chinese still form the majority in most towns of both parts of Malaysia, and are also numerous in the towns of Kalimantan, especially West Kalimantan. Whereas the Chinese are distinctive everywhere, there is a sharp contrast between Kalimantan and Malaysia in the pattern of ethnic identification among the Muslim Malays (Melayu in West Kalimantan) and Banjarese, Javanese, Madurese, Bugis, and others. All retain identity as distinct groups in Kalimantan, as elsewhere in the poly-ethnic Indonesian state. In Malaysia the national ethos is different, and Muslim settlers from different parts of Indonesia, even from only a few decades ago, have mostly sought to submerge their group identity and become indistinguishable from the "Malay" majority.³

Fig. 1.3 Borneo, showing densities of recorded population (Sources: Sensus Penduduk Indonesia 1990; Jabatan Perangkaan Malaysia, 1992a, 1992b; The Far East and Australasia, 1994)

Sellato (1995) has studied the problem of ethnic identity among the Dayaks of Kalimantan. He concludes that only in Central Kalimantan do Dayaks form a sufficiently powerful and cohesive group to be able to stand up against central government (basically Javanese) policies seen to be against their interests. In both East and West Kalimantan the Dayaks are under the dominance of coastal Malays, are fragmented, and are culturally fragile. In Sarawak and Sabah the indigenous groups have rather more autonomy and, although their freedom is limited by the central government, are at least prominent in local administration. Interior people everywhere are under pressure from logging and other outside interests, where small but real struggles take place frequently about control over, or access to, customary resources.

Indians are the smallest of the modern immigrant groups and almost all are in the Peninsula. The population history of Borneo and the Peninsula is dominated by migrations, into and within the region, from earliest times to the present day (Andaya and Andaya, 1982). A majority among the immigrants, even among the recruited Chinese and Indian workers of the colonial period, have remained in the region. Emigration - except, as we shall see below, from the distinctive Banjarese heartland in south-east Kalimantan - has been of minor significance.4

This fact underlies another: for most of the past two centuries this has been a region of economic growth. Although there have been many failures among enterprises and some settlement forays, and these continue, there has almost consistently been more work available than people to perform it. Barriers against immigrants are now erected in all parts of South-East Asia, but they remain selective in their administration. Few of the many attempts to enforce repatriation of immigrant workers and their families and descendants have been pursued with sustained vigour.5

The context of economic growth is of central importance in understanding the environmental history. Equatorial South-East Asia is both the most populous and the most rapidly developing part of the lowlatitude tropics. Singapore and Malaysia, but not yet Indonesia, have attained levels of per capita national income above or comparable with those of southern Europe. The annual GDP growth rates of all three countries over the period 1965-1989 were consistently high, though more spectacular in the 1970s than in the 1980s (World Bank, 1992: 220-221). As in all of East Asia, high growth rates have resumed in the 1990s, and until 1994 stood out against a global slow-down as among the highest in the world. People of both Indonesia and Malaysia, and of all ethnic groups within them, are proud of their national achievements since independence and impatient for further development. It would be folly to disregard this essential part of the total context of environmental change.

The biophysical environment

The geological base and its history

The Sundaland spur, or small plate forming an extension of the Eurasian plate, has remained relatively stable since late Tertiary time, encircled by the volcano-pierced island and mountain arcs formed, and still being formed, by the collision between the whole Eurasian plate and the Indo-Australian and Philippine plates to the south and northeast. Before this time, however, there were major changes along the northward and eastward sides of Borneo, as the Malay Peninsula and western and southern Borneo rotated counter-clockwise during the late Mesozoic and early Tertiary (Taylor and Hayes, 1983). The core of the Peninsula and the western part of Borneo are composed of Palaeozoic granitic, volcanic, and metamorphic rocks, which constitute the heart of the Sundaland plate. Mesozoic limestone formations occur widely and, though not large in area, are characterized by very distinctive karst landforms, which are particularly well marked in western and central parts of the Peninsula. Additions to the plate, containing mudstones, shales, and limestones of marine origin, were created by mountain systems formed during the rotation, especially in eastern Borneo.

Faulting of the Sunda shelf, in the early Tertiary, created the present set of basins and montane blocks frol Malaysia north to Thailand. However, the last major accretions to the core landmass took place before the end of the Mesozoic (Burton, 1972; Katili, 1974; Taylor and Hayes, 1983; Tjia, 1988; Pieters and Supriatna, 1990). They may have included attachment to eastern Borneo of a southward extension of the eastern Philippines arc toward Java, a remaining fragment forming the Meratus mountains in the south-east of the island (Holloway, 1981). The Mesozoic eastward rotation of Borneo brought the large island into the west Pacific mobile belt so that the northern and eastern sides have been an area of active tectonic movement right through the Tertiary and into more recent times, and thus geologically distinct from Sundaland. A complex geological history, now in part unravelled, includes the formation and destruction of island arcs and basins, collision of plates, substantial faulting and thrusting accompanied by volcanism, and in northern Borneo the creation of a sharply defined mobile zone uplifted on its inland side and depressed on the seaward side (Taylor and Hayes, 1980, 1983; Holloway, 1981; Mitchell, Hernandez, and Dela Cruz, 1986).

During the Tertiary era, therefore, there were major changes in northern Borneo, associated first with the closing of an oceanic gap separating the Asian mainland from an island arc extending from north-west Borneo to Luzon, attaching micro-plate sections of this mainland to the arc, then splitting the whole from Asia to form the present South China Sea. This sea first opened then narrowed as subduction began along the Manila trench in the late Tertiary; this subduction did not extend southward, where a trench off Palawan and Sabah became inactive. In the process, major uplift took place along the persistent line extending north-east from western Sarawak through Sabah. This uplift, extending from the late Tertiary into the Quaternary, changed the course of rivers and elevated the Gunung Mulu massif to 2,600 m (Haile, 1967). It also contributed substantial bodies of sedimentary mudstones to the eastern side of the island. The seaward side of this uplifted belt is still actively subsiding toward a continuing downwarping in the South China Sea. The floor of the South China Sea north of Borneo is itself composed in part of oceanic plate materials, and in part of a series of shallowly submerged continental outliers from the Asian mainland.

The highest mountains, located in northern Borneo, are therefore Miocene or younger. The Crocker range of Sabah, rising to 4,100 m in Mt Kinabalu, is a mass of geologically recent igneous intrusives. Moreover, there were some Miocene and even Quaternary basaltic lava flows in both parts of the region, sometimes forming volcanic plateaux that cap older formations. These are particularly distinctive in eastern Sarawak and western East Kalimantan, where they rise to between 2,000 and 3,000 m. Other basalts, in Sabah, are associated with Miocene movements against the emerging Sulu basin to the north. Westward of the zone of uplift, Brunei and most of Sarawak are composed of sandstones, mudstones, and shales interbedded with limestones. There are cave systems of great size in these limestones, and they hold important evidence of human prehistory.

There is another Tertiary and Quaternary basin on the eastern edge of the plate, in East Kalimantan, where north-south trending foldlines have also been active into the Recent period. This basin is more closely linked to the tectonic evolution in the Philippines arc. The seaward sides of both eastern and northern basins, and especially their offshore extensions, contain large oil and gas pools, and on land there are extensive deposits of mainly soft coal at shallow depth or in recent geological structures. Most of the late Quaternary formations in the region are, however, coastal or occupy the lower valleys of large rivers; they are related to sealevel change during the Pleistocene and Holocene rather than to tectonics.

The legacy of the Pleistocene

Events in the Pleistocene period had major consequences for the pattern of modern economic development. The western part of the Sundaland core, and its northern extension into Thailand and Yunnan, is quite highly mineralized with gold and other metals, including, most importantly, some of the world's largest sources of tin. Outcrops became deeply weathered during the long period of emergence after the end of Mesozoic orogeny. At times of enhanced erosion, arising from what may probably have been periods of climatic continentality during low-sealevel stands in the Pleistocene, which we discuss further below, these ores became concentrated among a great mass of alluvial gravels laid down in large valleys. When sealevel was lowest during the times of glacial maximum - these valleys reached more than 180 m below the present low-water mark for thousands of years in the major lowlands that are now the Melaka Strait, the Java Sea, and the south-western part of the South China Sea (Tjia, 1970,1988). Subsequent flooding of these valleys covered the gravels and their tin ores with alluvium, and also covered karst extensively formed in limestone during low-sealevel periods.6

The most recent Holocene marine transgression, completed only between 6,000 and 5,000 years ago, left the region with an intricate shoreline, rapidly smoothed by marine erosion and deposition, together with the formation of alluvial plains and large peat swamps behind coastal barriers. The depth and nature of the Pleistocene alluvials are known in some detail from drilling in those areas where there is thought to be tin or oil, especially in the Melaka Strait and on the west side of Makassar Strait. The tin ores, and some gold, mostly concentrated in gravels beneath Holocene alluvium of shallow depth, became a major resource in the nineteenth century. The coastline continues to adapt to sedimentation from inland rivers and in estuaries, together with minor sealevel variations, of which three within the last 4,000 years have been recognized (Tjia, 1988). Several quasihistorical accounts, from both the Peninsula and Borneo, indicate that there may have been considerable local changes in coastal detail even within the past few hundred years.

In the context of this book it needs to be stressed that no more than a tiny proportion of the large amount of alluvium and peat swamp now existing - and mainly formed over the past few thousand years - owes anything to human activity. The massive Pleistocene erosion in the uplands, which created great quantities of readily reworkable material in the valleys and coastal lowlands, was entirely a natural process. However, not all the products of millennia of deep weathering were removed down to sealevel, and simple observation of the shape of valley sides suggests that great masses of colluvium still exist along many lower slopes. A great deal of highly erodible and transportable material remains on the hills and in the valleys throughout the region.

Soil formation

Though climates are not uniform in this region, all are essentially a-seasonal, or only weakly seasonal, and humid. The more strongly seasonal of SouthEast Asia's climates lie beyond this area of interest. Modern literature, which is based largely on zonal soil classification, therefore provides limited information on the considerable variation that is encountered, even in a region much of which has been tectonically inactive since the end of the Mesozoic era. The dominant soils of the deeply weathered uplands are commonly acidic, with coarsetextured topsoils overlying more clayey subsoils. These are the well-known Red-yellow Podzolic Soils, Leached Ferrallitic Soils, or, more recently, Ultisols (Young, 1976; Burnham, 1984), and are so described across a range of parent materials. In the Ultisols, most of the clay fraction is characteristically in the B horizon. These soils are said to erode readily when cleared, but this is not always so (Andriesse, 1972); slope failure in the deeply weathered regolith is a more universal occurrence. The soils are deficient in nutrients such as phosphorus and potassium, and sometimes have high levels of aluminium; aluminium toxicity is very common. In areas of low relief subjected to a longer period of evolution undisturbed by wasting, soils are described as Latosols and Oxisols, and are even poorer in quality.

There is, however, a major contrast in natural erodibility between the older areas of the Peninsula and western Borneo, built mainly of Palaeozoic rocks, and the newer mudstones, especially those in the east of Borneo that have been laid down only since the mid-Tertiary. A recent comparison shows that natural suspended sediment yields are half an order of magnitude greater in streams draining the mudstones in eastern Sabah than in the main range of the Peninsula (Douglas, 1994). Sensitivity to degradation is, clearly, much greater in these areas of weakly consolidated younger formations.

The zonal literature recognizes that parent material can sometimes outweigh the climatic influence and, in terms of understanding actual complexity on the ground, an approach using parent material, as advocated by Humphreys (1991), is likely to be more informative.' Common parent materials in the uplands include granite, ancient volcanics and various metamorphics, shales, and sandstones; there are small areas of limestone and recent volcanics. Soils derived from granite are commonly very deep, with rounded slopes prone to landslides, whereas soils derived from shales, especially where metamorphosed, are much shallower and more finely textured, in a waterworn landscape of precipitous knife-edged crests (Whitmore, 1984: 226). Soils developed on granites and quartzites are generally inferior to those on andesites and shales (Ho, 1964). Those developed on shales of marine origin have good resilience under cultivation, greater than that of soils on metamorphics. So closely spaced are lithological changes in the sedimentary series that some formations are described as "melange" units, one such in Sabah being formed of interbedded siltstones, sandstones, cherts, spillites, and tufts (Douglas et al., 1992b). Large upland areas of the region have clayey redyellow soils, even brown on slopes (Burnham, 1984). Good structure, a moderate level of inherent fertility, and the constant release of new subsoil minerals for weathering by slope processes make some of these soils "surprisingly good" for agriculture (Ho, 1964: 42).

Among the most distinctive of the region's soils are those based on coarse sandstones and sandy colluvium and alluvium, which, under weathering, yield large quantities of quartz sand. Sometimes these are described as tanah tua (aged land), and in a number of areas sand comprises almost all the topsoil once the thin humic layer is removed from the surface after clearance.8 These soils occupy as much as 7 per cent of the total area of Sarawak, and throughout Borneo are found both at low altitudes and in upland areas, developed on hill and plateau areas of Tertiary sandstones, on Quaternary fluvial terraces with sand and clay in alternating succession, and on Holocene beach-ridge systems (Stein, 1988). They are also present in the Peninsula, mainly on Holocene sands of the east coast. They are true Podsols of the humic variety, and they support a distinctive vegetation, the heath forest or kerangas, which we discuss below. Shifting cultivators use kerangas soils only if no others are available, and plots soon have to be abandoned (Andriesse, 1972; Padoch, 1982a). Unwise attempts to establish permanent agriculture on such land have encountered grave difficulties. At one transmigrant site in West Kalimantan, where 20,000 unfortunate people were settled:

The working areas and gardens consist of quartz sand. The plants are stunted. Vegetation growth is not good and has no production. Topsoil is eroding. A large portion of the land slope exceeds 8 per cent so it is easily eroded. (IIED/GOI, 1985, Annex D).

In all parts of the region there is great variety over quite small areas. Slope, local morphology, and parent material are at least as important as wider pedogenic history. Immature soils on steep slopes are sometimes described as shallow brown earths; some nowadays would be classed as Inceptisols (Burnham, 1984). Panton (1964) classed up to 40 per cent of Peninsular soils as slope soils. On late Tertiary and Pleistocene basalts deep inland in Sarawak and East Kalimantan, in the central Peninsula, and more usefully at low altitude in eastern Sabah are areas of deep clay-loam soils said by some to be of high quality, though those in central Sarawak are also described as Podzolic (Burnham, 1984). The good, deep, and friable soils that certainly exist on some basalts in eastern Sabah and a few other areas are unfortunately of relatively small extent, though important at subregional scale (Thomas, Low, and Hepburn, 1976).

Those indigenous cultivators who seek sites for long-term cultivation, rather than simply swiddens of short duration, have a complex soil taxonomy of their own, based primarily on colour and texture. In an area of interbedded shales and sandstones in East Kalimantan, near the Sarawak border, Lun Dayeh farmers recognize four colours and four textures, and have additional terms to describe specific properties; they clearly recognize the quartz-sand, kerangas soils as unsuitable for any agricultural enterprise. They also recognize a number of plants as indicators of agricultural potential, with ranking precisely the same as that independently offered by a forest botanist (Padoch, 1986). This example is unusual since the Lun Dayeh permanent-field farmers are not typical in the regional context, but it clearly indicates the variation that exists within zonal "uniformity."

The alluvial soils, likewise, vary substantially according to the source of the alluvium. Those derived from highly acidic uplands are themselves acid. Those derived largely from marine sources on coasts and in tidal estuaries occupied by mangroves, which trap silt, have a high clay content, and the shells contribute calcium. They may, however, become extremely acid on drainage. Alluvial soils in the region range from areas of high fertility to others that are almost sterile. Moreover, away from salt water and on the margins of the low natural levees formed by the rivers, they graduate into organic peat soils. Large parts of the recently formed coastal lowlands are occupied by peat swamps over marine alluvium, especially in Central and West Kalimantan and in Sarawak, but smaller areas of peat swamp have developed behind beach barriers around all coasts of the region. J. A. R. Anderson (1964) suggests that peat formation originated as coasts aggraded seaward, causing the back-zones of mangrove swamps to become less saline. The high sulphide and salt content of the days then proved toxic to the micro-organisms that decompose plant matter.

With - by definition - more than 65 per cent of organic material and with water tables at the surface, the deep peats of the coastal and subcoastal swamps contain large quantities of woody material and, because of the presence of sulphur compounds, are of very high acidity; pH values below 4.0 are not uncommon. In periods of drought, moreover, dried-out surface layers readily catch fire, which persists until extinguished by rising water. In several parts of the re gion farmers have evolved methods by which to drain the shallower peats in areas on the margins of these swamps and wash the acid from them. These systems cover quite large areas, some of them developed more than a century ago, and in recent years more intensive settlement has been attempted for new land development, with mixed success. In a later chapter we shall further discuss these efforts, for the reclaimed areas are highly vulnerable to both drought and flood, and to even small changes in sealevel. There are also some inland freshwater swamps of considerable extent in Kalimantan; they, by contrast, have high pH.

Notwithstanding the importance of parent material and location, one element of geomorphic and climatic history is of possibly greater significance than has been recognized. The Pleistocene periods of heavy erosion and transportation, discussed above, gave rise to extensive systems of terraces as well as deep alleviation in the valleys. The wide Holocene beach-ridge systems are formed of sand that can hardly have been produced in such quantity from the land, and probably originated from arenaceous sediments in areas now covered by the sea. Moreover, there are iron nodules and a number of laterite caps on low hills and terraces, and extensive areas of bauxite formation on a range of substrates on low hills. Ashton (1972) was among the first to argue that these could not have been formed under present climatic conditions, as is commonly suggested for many duricrusts. It should be noted that the association of particular duricrusts with a distinct climatic type owes much to the theory of zonation, and should not be taken as a fact. Nevertheless, the large changes in land area during the Pleistocene support the possibility that climates were periodically more continental, with - in at least parts of the region lower and more seasonal precipitation than at present. Such changes might have been conducive to the massive erosion that has been recognized. This also has implications for vegetation history, as Ashton (1972) and the discussants of his paper argued at length. Adaptation to moisture stress is better achieved by the heath forest or kerangas than by the floristically rich rain forest (Stein, 1988), and the possibility exists that the large extent of this formation also represents a legacy from drier conditions during the Pleistocene.

The forests

The richness of the flora of the Malesian region as a whole has been described by many writers, most comprehensively by Whitmore

(1984). Conservatively, there are estimated to be 25,000 species of flowering plants (Van Steenis, 1971). On the dry land above the swamps a complex, multi-storeyed association is dominated by canopyemergent dipterocarp species, sometimes in large groups rising to between 45 and 60 m. There are over 350 species of dipterocarp. Species intermingling is common, but is notably greater in the hill forests than on lowland tracts; this difference has been of significance in the history of modern exploitation. Ashton (1972: 47) concludes his review of the Quaternary evidence by arguing that dipterocarps, and most other genera now present, spread through the hills in the late Tertiary under continental climatic conditions; diversification followed during moist phases of the Pleistocene. In northern Borneo, continuing tectonic activity also created new habitats, facilitating diversification.

The dispersal of dipterocarps must have been extremely slow, because studies cited by Whitmore (1984, 1991), Woods (1989), and other writers show that seedlings seldom grow far from the parent tree and that large gaps are recolonized only after considerable time. Some light-demanding species, including many of the 72 Shorea spp. known in Malay as meranti, certainly grow rapidly in gaps, whether natural or anthropogenic, so that after felling a new stand becomes available in only a few decades. Wind-dispersed species establish themselves more widely than those without winged seeds. Some slow-growing species, which include dipterocarps growing only in the shade created by lightdemanding trees, are very rigorous in the conditions required for regrowth and re-establishment (Woods, 1989).

Above about 900-1,200 m, the lowland and hill forests give way to montane forests in which a range of non-dipterocarp species, particularly Fagaceae and Lauraceae (oaks and laurels), dominate. Among dipterocarps, only Shorea curtisii is locally a dominant, especially on ridge crests where, in the Peninsula, this wind-resistant tree sometimes forms pure stands (Whitmore, 1984: 226-230). Structural changes are significant, with a lower canopy height, few emergents, an absence of buttressing, and the disappearance of flowers borne on the trunks of the trees (cauliflory). Higher still, the forest becomes stunted, with large numbers of mosses and epiphytes. Altitudinal zonation, of both associations and individual species, varies considerably from place to place according to exposure and the frequency of mountain-hugging cloud. Only the summit area of Mt Kinabalu in

Sabah rises altogether above the tree line, but there are patches of very stunted forest on several other high mountains in both Borneo and the Peninsula. From the analogy of studies of the higher mountains on the island of New Guinea, it may be that the whole upper montane vegetation is still in course of adaptation to post-Pleistocene warming and increased cloudiness. Zonation is, however, compressed by comparison with that in New Guinea.

There is less diversity in the swamp forests, where only a few species dominate over large areas. One dipterocarp, Shorea albida, is sometimes dominant or co-dominant, but other species form the greater part of the stands. There is commonly a concentric pattern of tree communities, outward from the centre of the swamp, seeming to represent a succession in time (J. A. R. Anderson, 1964, 1976; Whitmore, 1984: 180-195). Despite the difficulties of access, certain swamp-forest trees, particularly Gonostylus bancanus (ramin in Malay), were among the earliest Borneo timbers other than ironwood (Eusideroxylon zwageri) - exported since at least the nineteenth century - to be exploited for international trade. On the seaward fringe are the mangroves, also floristically richer than elsewhere in the tropics (Whitmore, 1984: 178). They are extensive along the west coast of the Peninsula and around the eastern, southern, and western coasts of Borneo; most coasts facing the South China Sea are fringed with sand. These were the earliest forests to be used commercially, with silvicultural management, as important sources of both timber and charcoal. In recent years they have suffered most heavily from human impact, both for their wood and, by reclamation, for fish ponds and, on the inland sides, rice fields. Their value as breeding grounds for marine life has been greatly reduced by these incursions.9

As with soils, there is considerable local variation in the dry-land forests. In detail, this is related to location, with different communities growing along rivers, in other moist locations, on drier slopes, and on ridge crests. Some species of importance to forest dwellers are rather specific in their location; an example is the upland sago-palm Eugeissona utilis, important to Penan huntergatherers in Borneo, which is associated particularly with springs (Brosius, 1986). In the peat swamp forests, Shorea albida is commonly sited halfway along the catena from most favourable to most unfavourable conditions (J. A. R. Anderson, 1964).

Greater variation is associated with soil type. Agathis spp., valuable softwoods that have the most tropical distribution of all the conifers, occur as large stands only on so-called "a-zonal" soils, especially sandy soils, though they also occur in peat swamp forest in southern Kalimantan, where they were exploited in the 1950s.

The heath forest (kerangas) has already been discussed in the context of its soil associations. This type is structurally and floristically quite different from the dipterocarp rain forest. Kerangas is of uniform canopy, with small trees, but ranges all the way from degraded dipterocarp formations to low, bushy scrub and sometimes, as at higher altitude in the rift valley behind the Crocker range in Sabah, is dominated by pines. Also mainly associated with quartz sands, kerangas is sometimes encountered on waterlogged, infertile soils with a hard pan (Richards, 1952: 243-246; Whitmore, 1984: 161-165). Kerangas land is a fragile ecosystem, and is so described by Whitmore (1990: 145). When cleared, recovery of a forest cover is extremely slow; the fast-growing Macaranga shrub, characteristic of early regrowth in gaps made in the dipterocarp forest, will not thrive.10 Quite large areas, especially on beach sands along the east coast of the Peninsula, have been cleared by burning and are now open, sandy savannas.

Climatic shocks and the forest

No part of this region is close to active volcanoes and, although there are traces of ashfalls in some soils, there is no evidence of catastrophic destruction of forest from this cause as has happened in Sumatra (Ashton, 1972). On the other hand, there is growing evidence that important areas have been subjected to climatic shocks. Though cyclones are almost unknown in the southern part of the South China Sea, there is clear evidence that hurricane-force winds smote Kelantan, in the north-east of the Peninsula, in 1880 and felled large areas of lowland dipterocarp forest. When studied in the 1950s, the commonest species were still of secondary, light-demanding character, and there was a much reduced number of dipterocarps by comparison with other areas (Wyatt-Smith, 1954). This forest has since been felled more thoroughly by human hands, bringing an interesting natural "experiment" to an untimely end.

Moisture stress, however, occurs in most years at the north-western and south-eastern extremities of the region, in the north-west of the Peninsula and in the east and south-east of Borneo. In the latter, it has been realized since the drought and fires of 1982/83 that, periodically, severe droughts and also floods are characteristic of the climate. Moreover, they affect areas far beyond the range of quasiannual moisture stress. We discuss the drought/fire problem, and its consequences and implications, in detail in chapter 8 below, but at this stage note that tree death from drought and fire has clearly been a persistent element in the forest ecology of the whole eastern side of Borneo, and periodically also of other areas (Woods, 1989; Whitmore, 1991; Wirawan, 1993). If large parts of the region were significantly more continental in climate during the Pleistocene, we might expect both drought and fire to have been much more widespread than this in the past. Even now, as we shall see in chapter 8 below, fire has been important in the modern ecology of regions in centralwestern Borneo as recently as 1965 and probably later. The full implications of these new findings for interpretation of the natural history of the forests, their differentiation from place to place and their localized replacement by grassland, have not yet been analysed in the literature, although there was early discussion by Brünig (1971) and more recently by Stein (1988).

Climatic variability

The historical record

Although new to each generation of nineteenth-century colonial reporters, the prolonged periods of drought and flood that are recorded in the documentary history of South-East Asia from the 1840s onward have probably been a stable characteristic of Holocene climate. These are the El niño and La Nina events widely discussed in recent years, the former bringing dry conditions to South-East Asia, and the latter wet conditions, the reverse of what occurs on the western coast of South America where the events were first described. With a mean return interval of around 4.5 years, these phenomena yield either a more pronounced, longer, and geographically more extensive dry season, usually coupled with a poor wet season, or else a long period of abnormally heavy rain. Once established, these spells tend to have a duration of about a year, but some go on for longer (Working Group, 1992; Nicholls, 1993).

The record for this and a much wider west Pacific region has been brought together by Allen, Brookfield, and Byron (1989) and by Brookfield and Allen (1991). It is also discussed by Nicholls (1992), whose detailed record for nearby and climatically related Australia since 1789 offers an important checklist by means of which fuller study of the Indonesian and Malaysian historical and anecdotal record can be calibrated. Little of this work has yet been done, except in chapter 8 of this book, but a project on the environmental history of Indonesia, now in its early stages in the Instituut voor Taal-, Landen Volkenkunde at the University of Leiden, may soon begin to fill a large gap in knowledge (D. Henley, pers. comm.). A much longer list, also using flow records on the river Nile, provides a more distant and less sure means of calibration extending back well beyond the time that any anecdotal or other Indonesian record is likely to cover (Quinn, 1992).

Borneo and the Peninsula, lying astride the equator, have a considerable range of mean rainfall regimes. A two-maximum regime of rainfall, coinciding with the overhead passages of the sun, is characteristic of most areas north of the geographical equator, including the western side of the Peninsula, Sarawak, and Sabah.11 South of this equatorial zone there are generally two seasons: a wet season between November and April and a drier season between May and October. Only in the south-east of Borneo is this drier season normally a truly dry season with little rain. During the mid-year months the climate is dominated by a south-easterly airstream, and the continental shadow of Australia makes this an almost rainless season in the south-eastern islands of Indonesia beyond Sundaland, though including eastern Java. The notable effect of an El Niño event is to intensify the dry season and enlarge its areal extent westward and northward, while the deep convection that normally occurs in the November-April period is greatly reduced. In major events, such as occurred in 1877/78 and 1982/83, the wet season might produce little or no more rain than the normal precipitation of the drier months.

The basis for these quite common events lies in the equatorial "Walker circulation," especially its Pacific segment. "Normally" the South-East Asian region is the principal centre of vertical convection in this system, the air travelling eastward aloft to descend off the west coast of South America. During an El Niño, the vertical convection shifts eastward into the midPacific; during a La Niño, on the other hand, the "normal" pattern is intensified.12 This oscillation has taken place six times since 1965, to major effect in 1982/83, somewhat less seriously but over longer time in 1991-1993, and with lesser but still significant effect in 1987. The last of these, however, was followed by an extremely wet La Nina event in 1988. The spatial pattern of impact is, however, by no means always the same, and this is examined in much greater detail below in chapter 8.

Dry seasons of varying length are therefore characteristic of most parts of the region, arising even in areas normally per-humid (Sham Sani and Chong, 1991). For the island of Borneo, one may generalize from mean data that eastern and south-eastern districts of Kalimantan tend normally to experience both lower annual rainfall and longer dry seasons, while interior, particularly upland, districts and western areas have more uniformly distributed rainfall and higher annual totals. Droughts might also be experienced periodically in parts of Sabah, especially in the lee of the ranges or on the south-east coast, but should rarely be a problem in Sarawak. In the Peninsula, except for the central mountains and parts of Johor, annual means tend to be lower than in much of Borneo. However, although seasonality is marked along the east and north-west coasts, monthly rainfalls fall frequently below 100 mm in only a few areas (Dale, 1959/60). Nowhere in this region do conditions resemble those in eastern Indonesia, where eight-month dry seasons are regular events.


1. We are grateful to G. S. Humphreys and Ian Douglas for useful comment, information, and advice on matters concerning geology, soils, and geomorphic history in this chapter.

2. Orang Asli means "aboriginal people" in the Peninsula, and it has now replaced the older and derogatory Malay term, Sakai, meaning "slave" or subject people. Dayak is widely used as a generic term for all the tribal people of Borneo, and is in general use in Kalimantan. In Sarawak, however, it is used only of Iban and some other western people. In Sabah it is not used; Dusun or Kadazan, while also meaning a particular people who are the majority, is sometimes used loosely to describe all. The tribal people of eastern Sarawak are known as Orang Ulu, meaning the "people of the headwaters, or interior."

3. Moreover, recent fieldwork among Banjarese-Malay migrants from Kalimantan living in Krian and Johor on the Peninsula reveals a desire among these long-standing immigrants to forget their origins and become local Malays. The stigma associated with current illegal Indonesian migration may help explain this (Potter, 1993a).

4. Very few of those who, in the period 1945-1958, left the new Indonesian state together with the Dutch, either from preference or from fear, came from Kalimantan. There have been some very modern moves to Saudi Arabia, and other lands of opportunity, which are now becoming numerically significant.

5. Several thousand Chinese detainees were deported from the Peninsula to China early in the communist uprising after 1948. However, following the 1949 communist victory in China, ports refused to accept the returnees, a fact that also halted moves to deport some Chinese from Indonesia. In the Peninsula, suggestions were even made that "the detainees be loaded onto amphibious landing equipment, shipped across the South China Sea, and dumped on China's south coast" (Stubbs, 1989:117). Fortunately, this early enforced creation of "boat people" did not happen. Some Indonesian immigrants, among them Banjarese, were forcibly repatriated from the Peninsula to Kalimantan at this time. After the coup in Indonesia in 1965, many thousands of the Chinese community were killed, whether or not they had been associated with the communists, and a considerable number left the country voluntarily.

6. Concealed karst pinnacles and hollows underlie large parts of the city of Kuala Lumpur, and their exploration has become important in order to establish firm foundations for the large number of highrise buildings erected in the city since 1970.

7. Humphreys (1991: 89) comments additionally on the use of Soil Taxonomy that "the classification stems from the heartland of the US Soil Conservation Service, the corn belt of central USA, and as a result many users outside this region have found the system wanting. In the tropics several great groups are prefixed by 'trop-' meaning a particular soil is the tropical variety of the suborder ... Calling a soil a tropical soil in a tropical country adds very little to further characterization and understanding."

8. After clearance, "the soil very quickly degenerates. The surface humus layer is either eroded, burned, or oxidized. The small amount of clay in the soil washes down the profile to leave almost pure silica sand, which unlike the clay and humus has no electrical charge to which nutrient ions can attach" (Whitmore, 1990: 145). These soils are described as "sandy leached ferrallitic soils" by Young (1976: 139).

9. In both countries, the management of mangroves is legally regulated. However, the allocation of areas for timber extraction and uncontrolled reclamations continues in defiance of legislation.

10. A Japanese project, charged with reforesting the site of a failed transmigration (settlement) scheme on such land, found that even so tolerant a tree as Acacia mangium would make little growth (S. Sasaki, pers. comm).

11. The thermal equator lies 1-3° north of the geographical equator.

12. This is a highly simplified statement. The system is well described in numerous sources, most recently in Glantz, Katz, and Nicholls (1991) and by Nicholls (1992, 1993). Moreover, the South-East Asian pattern does not always correspond closely with events in the eastern Pacific, so that a "minor" El Nino in 1914, as recorded in the eastern Pacific, became a major drought year in South-East Asia; the converse occurred in 1925, a great event in the eastern Pacific but relatively minor in South-East Asia. Allen, Brookfield, and Byron (1989) and Brookfield and Allen (1991) have analysed the record of these anomalies from the west Pacific point of view.

A not remote past

A forested landscape and its people

As late as the middle of the nineteenth century, over 95 per cent of the land area of Borneo and the Peninsula was still under forest. Early European travellers who climbed to high places provided descriptions of "ranges of hill and valley everywhere covered with interminable forest, with glistening rivers winding among them" (Wallace, 1869: 25). A small population, probably not more than 1,500,000 in Borneo and the Peninsula together in 1800 (Reid, 1988: 14), was already being augmented by immigrants, but the majority still consisted of two main groups of people. There were rice-farming and fishing lower-riverine and coastal Muslim people who spoke mutually intelligible dialects of Malay. Inland were shifting cultivators and hunter-gatherers who were mainly animist, tribally organized, and spoke a variety of languages. Only in certain more accessible areas were these people strongly influenced by Islam.

Until the early 1800s there was certainly a larger population in Borneo than on the Peninsula, and it is probable that the inland people were at least as numerous as the riverine and coastal people; the latter, however, dominated politically. This dominance, by small Malay states, was exerted more through tight control of trade, supported by waterborne armed power, rather than by direct military means. Malays initially settled in the Peninsula and Sumatra. They migrated to Borneo throughout the medieval period and into the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, but in the main they remained in the coastal area, penetrating far inland along rivers only in western and southeastern Borneo (Irwin, 1955).

In the Peninsula as well as in Borneo, both the coastal and interior peoples of the region collected a great range of forest products as well as mangrove and other marine products that were in demand overseas.¹ Malay rulers established trading posts, and sometimes agents, at the mouth of each tributary stream (Helliwell, 1990: 19). At the coast and at riverine ports, produce was exchanged with seagoing traders (who from an early date were mainly Chinese, later also Indian and sometimes Arab) for a range of manufactured imports. These included particularly pottery, lacquerware, glass, fine textiles, and copper and ironware goods of high value (Andaya and Andaya, 1982). To the forest and marine exports were added gold, iron, and tin, sieved and mined, and smelted at locations both in the coastal regions and also far inland. Among the riverine and coastal towns, which competed and sometimes formed alliances, a very few rose to regional dominance: first, and outstandingly, Srivijaya in Sumatra and later, in the Peninsula and Borneo, Melaka, Johor, Patani (now across the border in Thailand), and Brunei. Brunei, which has existed at locations close to the present site for over 1,400 years, dominated the trade of most of northern Borneo and the southern Philippines between about A.D. 1000 and 1350, and remained important until the nineteenth century.² It was through the coastal ports that Islam entered the region, beginning perhaps in the fourteenth century and becoming dominant by the sixteenth.

The commercial - and often hostile - nature of the relationship between the Malays and the inland people had one consequence of lasting importance: only a minority of either the Orang Asli of the Peninsula or the Dayak, Kadazan, Murut, and Orang Ulu of Borneo were converted to Islam.³ Most of those who were converted were coastal people, or were in areas where Malays penetrated well inland at an early date, particularly along the Kapuas and Barito rivers and their tributaries in Kalimantan (Perelaer, 1870; Enthoven, 1903; Hudson, 1967; Miles, 1976; Ave. King, and de Wit, 1983; Sevin, 1983). Christian missionaries, arriving in the nineteenth century and, after midcentury, free to operate in Borneo, began to make serious and partly successful efforts at proselytization among these people. Colonial officials in Kalimantan encouraged such missions, especially after 1900 when greater Dutch control was gradually secured over much of the interior. Administrators were hostile to further Muslim con version of interior Dayaks, although efforts were continued unobtrusively in some regions by Muslim trader-teachers. The Dutch attitude was partly a deliberate "divide and rule" policy and partly paternalism towards the Dayaks. An open revolt against Dutch sovereignty from 1913 to 1917 along southern parts of the east coast saw hasty conversion to Islam of Dayaks in the Meratus mountains as they were pressed into the struggle, but in general the Dutch policy of driving a wedge between coastal and interior people was successful (Black, 1985). A significant proportion of interior people remain animists even today, in both Borneo and the Peninsula. The recognition by the Indonesian government in 1980 of the animist religion "kaharingan" marked a political triumph for Dayaks in Central Kalimantan, and increased pride in claiming allegiance to the old ways. Despite this recognition, Sevin (1983) has pointed out that in 1980 Islam was the declared religion of twothirds of the population of Central Kalimantan, despite the fact that the province had been created specifically as a Dayak homeland, and that the percentagewas increasing.4

Consequences for the land

The written history of the pre-modern period is dominated by the rivalries between the coastal centres, the religious and other influences that came through them from India, Arabia, and China, and the later interplay with Portuguese, Spanish, Dutch, and British merchant venturers. More important from the standpoint of obtaining a historical perspective on modern environmental history, however, is to consider the implications of the mode of settlement and development for land, sea, and forest use and for demographic evolution. Agriculture was the main support for most of the population, even though a higher proportion than was common in pre-colonial countries may have lived in towns (Reid, 1988); in the forests a considerable proportion of dietary needs was obtained from wild sources.

By far the principal food crop has for many centuries been rice, sometimes supplemented by a range of root crops, in addition to fruits and vegetables. Rice is grown in several ways: in irrigated, bunded plots, transplanted from seed beds after ploughing and puddling of the soil using water buffalo, cattle, or hand-held hoes; broadcast or dibbled on permanently or seasonally wet land, prepared only by hand; and on slopes, operated on a land-rotational or shifting-cultivation basis. In some swamp areas there has been a fourth type, in which floating seed beds are used, sometimes with more than one transplanting as floods recede. There are several varieties of gradation between these basic systems, and we discuss one of them further in chapter 5.

Wet-field cultivation creates an enduring new landscape, but one that is quite specific to the flood plains and permanently watered swamps. Elsewhere in South-East Asia, but until recently hardly at all in Borneo and the Peninsula, slopes have been extensively terraced with field-to-field diversion of water. On flood plains, however, constant levelling to ensure even depth of water, and splitting and diversion of channels, can in time totally modify the original landscape and its drainage system. This is labour-intensive management, and it supports and requires relatively high densities of population. Such systems seem already to have been present in a number of valleys in the region in medieval times, probably having evolved from earlier and more casual systems. Hanks (1972) documents this process of historical succession in one area of Thailand.

Larger wet-rice areas became able to supply a surplus of rice not only to their own nearby urban populations, but also for export. Long before the nineteenth century, rice was the principal commodity traded within the SouthEast Asian region (Reid, 1988: 24). Within the Peninsula and Borneo, a number of concentrated areas of wetrice production evolved, especially in the northern valleys of the Peninsula, in the Hulu Sungai plain of south-eastern Borneo, and in the delta of the Kapuas in western Borneo. As population grew and migrants entered new areas, wet-rice cultivation extended up tributary valleys at the expense of former shifting cultivation systems. Samad Hadi (1981) traces this replacement in the Negri Sembilan area of the Peninsula, as Minangkabau settlers from Sumatra entered the region from the eighteenth to the twentieth centuries.

In terms of area occupied, however, shifting cultivation was the dominant form of agriculture until late in the nineteenth century, though there are few firm data with which to test this assertion. Even into the twentieth century it remained more significant than is often recognized in parts of the Peninsula (Hood Salleh and Seguin, 1983). However, most shifting cultivation land lay in Borneo, and there it was managed under a very wide range of systems, which, in the modern context, we shall discuss in greater detail in chapter 6 below. How much of the Borneo forest was used for cultivation, semicultivation, and hunting and gathering is a question of some importance in evaluating the sensitivity and resilience of the forests. This is a question to which there are no easy answers but on which some speculation can usefully be offered.

The population history of the forests

Firm data on the population history of South-East Asia as a whole are extremely scanty before the later years of the nineteenth century. Almost all the existing, real evidence comes from the organized agricultural states where there was taxation, and some records survive and have been analysed. Reid (1988: 11-18) assembles this information to show that growth rates in SouthEast Asia, over an approximate period spanning the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, were strikingly low, with actual declines taking place over these two centuries in some areas. At an average of about 0.2 per cent yearly, the growth rate before the nineteenth century was much below that of Europe, India, or China. Explanation is not easy, given that food shortages were rare and human health reportedly quite good in normal times, but it has to include "constant low-level warfare" and its consequences (Reid, 1988: 17). Moreover, it might also have to include a series of quite major epidemics, among which plague and smallpox were prominent during the seventeenth century, and smallpox at still later dates (Reid, 1988: 60-61).

Low-level, but savage, warfare was certainly characteristic of the Borneo interior during a major period of expansion by the Iban people from the western part, which began in the sixteenth century and continued into the twentieth (Padoch, 1982b: 15-16). Kayan groups were also involved in raiding during the early nineteenth century, moving into the Kapuas from bases in the Mahakam valley, burning villages, and capturing large numbers of slaves (Sellato, 1989: 42). As for disease, there is no reason from historical analogy of plague pandemics in the Eurasian mainland to suppose that even the people of the deep interior would have escaped its outbreaks, brought to them along the chains of ancient trade. Later, in the nineteenth century, there was certainly major mortality from both warfare and introduced disease in Borneo (Lien, 1987). When St. John (1862: I, 105) visited the lower Baram in eastern Sarawak in about 1860 he both saw, and heard of, many more large villages than exist in that region today. Lian (1987: 24) reports that fairly massive population decline forms an interwoven part of Orang Ulu history and is fundamental to any explanation of their flexible social organization, with its facility for assimilation and combination. Padoch (1983 and pers. comm.) describes considerable decline owing to epidemic disease among people deep inland near the Sarawak border of Kalimantan around the turn of the twentieth century. Chin (1985: 29-33) reproduces and comments on what seems to be the only detailed ethnohistorical account in the literature of an actual case of decline. It was documented in about 1966. Early in the nineteenth century, the Lepo Ga' Kenyah moved to the upper Baram River in eastern Sarawak from an inland region of nearby East Kalimantan now characterized by Imperata cylindrica grassland, and hence possibly cultivated to excess in the past. They had found local expansion difficult because of the hostility of the numerous Kayan people around them. Their numbers at this time, reportedly already reduced, were about 900 people. After a further decline to about 700, some of them visited the new river port of Marudi on the lower Baram, possibly in 1885. Soon after this, a massive epidemic - likely either cholera or smallpox - reduced them so greatly that only about 30 males survived. After further moves, made easier by the general decline of population around them by either migration or death, they resettled between 1910 and 1920 into their present area, at that time primary forest used only by the hunter-gatherer Penan.

Not only indigenous people but also Chinese settlers growing pepper quite deep inland behind Brunei seem to have declined and disappeared by the mid-nineteenth century (St. John, 1862: II, 312). More remarkable is the abandonment, probably early this century, of close settlement on the basaltic soils of the 1,000m Upun Asau plateau, dependent both on cultivation and on the low-yielding wild and planted upland sago (Eugeissona utilis). Abundant evidence of quite recent former occupation of this plateau was collected by an early exploring party in 1951 (Harrisson and Leach, 1954). Lian (1987: 2527) describes how the Kenyah, one of the Orang Ulu groups living around, rather than on, the plateau, migrated into the middle valleys progressively after the mid-1800s in search of trade goods, and perhaps also to occupy land left vacant by population decline or outward movement. This happened after early establishment of colonial government reduced the danger from head-hunting raids by the northward-migrating Iban. On the Kalimantan side, however, other groups remained in the highlands practicing wet-rice cultivation in valleys (Padoch, 1986). There are several more indications in the literature of possible population decline.

The detail of all this is unimportant for our purposes, but what is important is evidence that large areas of what now appears to be primary forest might have been occupied in the past, former inhabitants having either died or moved away. The grassland area in the upper Kayan valley of East Kalimantan, mentioned above, is unusual in this climatic region, as discussed further in chapter 9. The probability seems to be that at least some parts of the interior of Borneo, only 100-300 years ago, carried significantly more people than they do today, and that most of these people practiced shifting cultivation in association with gathering and hunting, although some also practiced wet-rice cultivation, and still do. In areas of western Borneo that still carry substantial concentrations of people, little "primary" forest can be identified; most of the forest is secondary with a large population of useful fruit and other trees, either planted or conserved. Elsewhere the forest can more appropriately be described as "primary," but, even in areas now populated by nomadic Penan in northern Sarawak, sago palms and long-lived fruit trees are conserved both by individuals and collectively through generations to ensure that their yield is sustained (Brosius, 1986; Langub, 1988, 1992). To its occupiers, the forest is a known set of resources to be worked over; much if not most of it has been exploited for centuries or millennia and, very probably, some it of has been affected more heavily in the past than by its indigenous occupiers even today. This has implications, to which we shall return.

Early intruders and their impact

Foreign gold miners and pepper, cassava (tapioca, maniac) and gambier planters have intruded into parts of the forest for centuries. The majority were Chinese, and they were already numerous in most states of the Peninsula and in several parts of Borneo in the eighteenth century, though their numbers increased rapidly after the establishment of Dutch and British coastal settlements that they could use as bases, independent of the local rulers (Jackson, 1968a). In 1854, when Wallace (1869: 21) travelled inland from Melaka in the Peninsula, he found some Chinese Jesuit converts at a village more than 20 km from the coast, who "were forming a gambir and pepper plantation, and in the immediate neighbourhood were extensive tin-washings, employing over a thousand Chinese." In northern Borneo there had been Chinese pepper plantations as much as 100 km inland (St. John, 1862: II,312) and Chinese farmers were settled a similar distance up the Kapuas River in West Kalimantan.

Extensive early commercial agriculture in the inland regions in fact began more than three centuries ago in South Kalimantan, as Dayak small-scale pepper growers were succeeded by waves of Banjarese Malays. Moving under coercion from their rulers into the hilly lands bordering the Hulu Sungai basin, they planted more and more pepper up to 250 km inland from Banjarmasin (Hudson, 1967). This lucrative cultivation, most of it on princely "apanage" lands, was extended by a nobility heavily involved in the export trade. Some two centuries of pepper cultivation under harsh and oppressive feudal conditions may have led to the first sustained creation of Imperata cylindrica grassland at the expense of forest in this seasonally dry region (Idwar Salleh, 1978; Potter, 1987a, 1993a; Brookfield et al., 1990). Much later, nineteenth-century Chinese cassava farming inland of Melaka on the Peninsula similarly led to an extension of grassland behind an advancing cultivation frontier, working up the interfluves between the Malay-occupied valleys and destroying the forest (Jackson, 1968a: 7679). In the same way in East Sumatra, advancing tobacco cultivation by Dutch planters led to widespread creation of grassland (Pelzer, 1978). The extent to which early extensive cash-cropping, between the seventeenth and nineteenth centuries, was responsible for the first major replacement of forest by grassland in historical times is unknown. However, it seems likely that it was not inconsiderable. Some big tracts of this grassland still exist, most widely in southeastern Borneo. However, a good deal was subsequently planted under rubber, and it seems quite probable that some large areas may have returned to secondary forest (see chapter 9).

The impact of early mining

Tin, gold, and iron in the Peninsula and Borneo

Mining of gold, iron, and tin, mostly from alluvial sites, has been practiced in eastern Sundaland for many centuries. Reid (1988) noted the importance of iron mining and smelting in parts of Borneo from the tenth century, first in the delta of the small Sarawak River (reaching the sea below Kuching) and later on the Karimata islands off the southwest coast, which supplied axes and parangs to Java. In the nineteenth century, the ready availability of Chinese metal put the Borneo industries into decline, except among remote Dayak groups. Schwaner (1853: I, 109-115) described small-scale iron workings he had visited on the upper Barito River, while Pijnappel (1860:

293-299) stated that iron smelting was the principal industry in Kotawaringan, in the far south-west of Central Kalimantan, and also provided a description of the mining and smelting activities. None of these workings seems to have left any permanent imprint on the landscape. Although Harrisson and O'Connor (1969) estimated the quantity of slag left behind in the Sarawak River delta at 40,000 tons, it has been shown by Christie and King (1988: 1415) that most of this "slag" is, in fact, natural concretions of laterite.

The beginnings of a more industrial form of tin mining in the Peninsula go back a number of years before the example seen by Wallace in the 1850s. There were Chinese miners in the region in the eighteenth century, but the real start was with a "rush" to the Larut valley in coastal Perak in 1848. The big expansion began in the 1870s, with the commencement of pit-working of tin-laden sands in valleys all the way down the west coast region of the Peninsula, and a little earlier on the Indonesian islands of Bangka and Belitung, which continue the same mineralized belt to the south. In the western Peninsula, chaotic political conditions involving war arose between organized Chinese miners, Malay sultans, minor rulers, and villagers. Moreover, the northern part of the region at this time was still claimed as fief by Thai rulers. This chaos was the formal precipitating cause of the British "forward movement" in the Peninsula, which culminated in the establishment of colonial control over the three main tin-mining Malay states in 1874 (Emerson, 1937; Yip Yat Hoong, 1969; Andaya and Andaya, 1982; Gullick, 1983; Gullick and Gale, 1986). Stable political conditions then enabled a few large Chinese entrepreneurs to establish themselves much more securely, recruit labour more readily, and import pumping machinery to facilitate what was still essentially a manual industry, digging holes and extracting the ore by hand. Although civil administration quickly became firm, British involvement was still mainly in international commerce. Between 1880 and 1905, the export duty on tin alone made up between one-third and one-half of the total revenue of what became, in 1896, the Federated Malay States (Swettenham, 1907: 300).5

Chinese miners, working gold rather than tin, also played an important role in the political history of Borneo. Earlier, though on a smaller scale, a not dissimilar situation to that of the western Peninsular states in the 1860s and 1870s arose in West Kalimantan.6 Chinese gold miners, working since the late eighteenth century in the Sambas region north of the Kapuas River, became virtually independent of the Malay sultan during the first half of the nineteenth century. For a time, they were able successfully to challenge Dutch attempts to impose political control (Veth, 1856; Irwin, 1955). They spread also into what became western Sarawak early in the nineteenth century. In the 1830s and again in 1857, organized Chinese endeavoured to seize political control of the Kuching area of Sarawak. The first attempt was against the Brunei sultanate, still claiming suzerainty until 1841. The second was aimed at its successor, the merchant-venturer government of the Briton, James Brooke, to whom the western Brunei domains had been ceded in that year (Jackson, 1968b; Chew, 1990). The firmer imposition of Dutch control over Sambas in 1850-1854 (that part of Borneo agreed in 1824 to be within their sphere) was strongly influenced by concern over Brooke's expansive presence a short distance to the north.

The environmental consequences of early mining were already severe in the mid-nineteenth century, even from hand-working methods of extracting tin and gold. Streams were diverted to help sluice the gravels, rivers became laden with sand and silt, agricultural land was rendered sterile, and forest was cut down to provide timber and firewood. The heaviest impact was in the basins of the Klang and Perak rivers of the western Peninsula, especially the latter. When the colonial administrator Swettenham first visited what later became his fief, before large-scale mining began, he saw in the Perak River basin a tropical idyll:

Above that first [tidal] thirty miles of the Pêrak River the water ran clear as crystal over its sandy bed, and it was for the most part very shallow, with deep pools at unexpected places. For the next hundred and fifty miles ... the stream ... was dotted with islands, some of fair size ... Throughout the whole of this river-length were villages, large and small, usually divided from each other by several miles of heavy forest . .. Here then was Pêrak [in 18721873], a '`limitless expanse" of jungle; miles upon miles of forest, broken only by silver streaks, where one might, from a very high place, catch glimpses of some river. (Swettenham, 1907: 117-119)

By the time Swettenham wrote this piece, still before the worst damage was done, the whole Pêrak River was already a silt-laden eyesore, and it flows a deep ochre to this day.7

Coal and oil in Borneo

The sedimentary basins of coastal Borneo have considerable resources of soft coal, oil, and gas. As soon as steamships began to operate regularly to and within South-East Asia in the 1840s there was a need for local sources of coal, both for security of supply in case of European war and to reduce the huge costs of importing the quantities required by inefficient early engines. This demand was augmented by new sugar mills built in Java, and then the first railway constructed there in 1864. The first mine was opened in ceded territory within the Dutch "protected" Banjarmasin sultanate in South Kalimantan in 1846, and began production in 1849. During the 1850s, all Dutch needs were satisfied from South Kalimantan (Irwin, 1955: 163-165). The opportunity to put a Dutch nominee on the throne arose from a dispute over succession to the Banjarmasin sultanate in 1859, but violent opposition led to a war that dragged on for decades after assumption of full colonial control in 1860. The mines were closed by attacks early in the insurrection. Later, more small collieries were developed, some of them further north in East Kalimantan; there were two near Samarinda in eastern Borneo in 1878 (Bock, 1881: 30). The Pulau Laut mine off the coast of South Kalimantan became the largest private coal mine in the Dutch East Indies by 1912 and supplied 27 per cent of the colony's total (Lindblad, 1988: 39). Although of lower grade than the hard coal from mines later developed in Sumatra, Kalimantan coal still formed one-third of Indonesian output in the 1930s (Naval Intelligence Division, 1944: II, 265). There was also a small coal mine in western Sarawak by 1856 (Wallace, 1869: 27). Reactivated by the government to supply coastal steamers in 1872, it continued to produce until the early 1930s (Jackson, 1968b; Chew, 1990: 181-192).8

Petroleum was known to exist in the sedimentary basins of eastern and northern Borneo from the mid-nineteenth century, from quite numerous seepages in several coastal locations. Active drilling began in the 1880s. A struggling Dutch coal-mining entrepreneur made the first major discovery in 1897, near the mouth of the Mahakam River in East Kalimantan. After a period of "wildcat" exploration yielding a small production from 1899, the infant Royal Dutch company, previously exploring in Sumatra, made the major discovery in 1902. They entered into a lasting arrangement with Shell Oil to obtain capital, combining in 1907 to found the present multinational. A pipeline was constructed to the nearest deep-water harbour at Balikpapan, and the initially small refinery there became the main centre of the industry (Lindblad, 1988). Later, in 1907, production also began further north on the island of Tarakan (Furnivall, 1939: 328; Naval Intelligence Division, 1944, II: 257).

Successful development of oil in East Kalimantan inspired exploration along the northern coast of Borneo, and the first producing well was put down in 1910 at Miri Sarawak; export began in 1913 (Jackson, 1968b; Chew, 1990). It is ironic at this point to note that it was only in 1906, during this period of early oil development, that the much-reduced sultanate of Brunei was finally secured in its present confined boundaries, under British protection from the encroaching Brooke family rulers of Sarawak. The twist of irony lies in the fact that it was at Seria in 1929, close to the western boundary of tiny and impoverished Brunei, that the continuing Shell company programme of exploration was to make the largest single discovery of oil on land in Borneo. We take the history of mining onward from this time in chapter 3.

The first major phase of transformation

Excision of the western Peninsula from the forest realm

By 1900 the mines of the western Peninsula were already the world's largest producers of tin, even though labour-intensive methods were still almost exclusively employed (Yip Yat Hoong, 1969; Gullick, 1983: 120). Soon after, British capitalists entered the industry on a large scale and quickly dominated; they imported new technology, the consequences of which we examine below. Before the turn of the century, the first railways had already been built to link the mining centres to the coast, together with a number of gravelled roads (Ward, 1960; Lim Heng Kow, 1978). In the 1870s, the first attempts were made to establish land codes, under which it would be possible to delimit Malay territory, land to be used for mining and other forms of development, and a large reserve of state land comprising all the rest. After a number of failures, a successful attempt was made to use the Australian "Torrens System" in 1886; this was further modified in 1896 by Swettenham, and applied in all the Federated Malay States; later it was extended to the whole country. With only small changes, it still applies.

A land code was essential to regulate development, and it raised revenue for the government, but it was primarily the means by which to create a land market and thus make possible economic diversification based on private enterprise (Lim Teck Ghee, 1977; Brookfield, Samad Hadi, and Zaharah Mahmud, 1991). Under this code, the experimental early plantations - some of them Chinese, some also with European participants - growing gambler, cassava, pepper, and later sugar were supplemented after 1878 by the first wholly European land-based enterprise in the Peninsula. This was the cultivation of coffee on upland areas around the tin mines, developed on a substantial scale by the 1890s. The planters thus made the first agricultural use of the new transport infrastructure being created for the dominant mining industry (Jackson, 1968a: 176-207). The coffee boom did not last, but the estates thus set up became the foundation for the rubber-planting industry that followed. A little later, the first continuing European enterprises also emerged in South Kalimantan, where the Dutch agrarian regulations were extended from Java in 1888 to facilitate longterm leasing of land, initially for tobacco (Lindblad, 1988; Potter, 1993a).9 In the 1890s tobacco was followed by coffee. Both the tobacco and the coffee failed, and by the early 1900s rubber was already being tried on the same holdings.

The demand for rubber and rubber-like products had been rising for some 20 years as industrialization in Europe and North America created new uses for these materials. In the forest-fringe economy, the value of gutta rambung, derived from naturally growing Ficus elastica, increased notably, and for some years it was planted as well as collected (Lim Teck Ghee, 1977: 75). In the forests of Borneo, gutta percha (Palaquium sp.) was in much increased demand throughout the 1880s, leading to heavy pressure on the resource (Lien, 1987: 69-70); it was an important element in the export economy of both the Peninsula and Borneo in this period. Of lesser importance was the scattered Dyera costulata, producer of jelutong, the latex of which is edible and later became a raw material for chewing gum. The production of these materials has continued, with periodic bursts of prosperity, but has been of minor significance since the end of the first major rubber price boom in the years 1909 -1912.10

Hevea brasiliensis was taken from Santarem on the Amazon to Kew, and then introduced to Singapore in 1877. It was successfully established at sites in the Peninsula by 1879. However, serious propagation did not begin until 1889, and only in 1893 did distribution commence.11 Its suitability was firmly established by 1898 (Jackson, 1968a: 212-217). The new land code of 1896 provided a means for its official encouragement. From late 1897, land alienated for rubber would carry a quit-rent of only 10 cents per acre, onefifth of the regular rent, for the first 10 years (ibid.: 219). Unlike most other rubber-yielding species, Hevea brasiliensis requires no shade and, though it was at first interplanted with coffee, it quickly took over on former annual-crop lands that, having been abandoned by Chinese farmers, were alienated to European planters. Clearing of the forest itself soon followed. Within a few years large areas of forest, gazetted as state land among village land, were being alienated to plantation companies, felled, and planted to rubber. Between 1908 and 1913, and then again from 1916 to 1918, new estates followed the expanding rail and road system all the way up and down the west coast of the Peninsula (Jackson, 1968a).

Chinese entrepreneurs also experimented with rubber after about 1903, at first interplanting it on their shifting-cultivation land with annual tapioca and gambler. Starting about 1906 and becoming widespread after 1909, Malay villagers began cutting the forest and planting rubber on land within their own domain that was not required for their rice and fruit-tree economy. As Malay land registration proceeded, individuals sought and obtained titles to the roughly oblong 1-2 ha blocks into which large areas of former village backland are now characteristically divided. This happened in spite of an almost total lack of official encouragement to villagers to join in the planting boom (Lim Teck Ghee, 1977: 73-79). By 1921, more than three-fifths of the total agricultural area on the Peninsula was devoted to this one crop, and 40 per cent of that was already on smallholders' land, overwhelmingly Malay (Jackson, 1968a: 263-265).

At the same time there was strong public investment in infrastructure. After 1900, the short railways that linked each tin-mining area to its own port began to be connected by a lateral north-south railway along which land was quickly alienated for rubber planting. By 1910 there was already a continuous track from Prai, opposite Penang, to the northern side of Johor strait, and a few years later the system was extended north to link with the Thai system. In 1923, the causeway to Singapore was completed, so that continuous track ran from Singapore to Bangkok. There was already a branch railway into the centre of the Peninsula, reaching Kuala Lipis in 1921, but not completed to reach Kota Bharu until 1931, linking up with an earlier railway into Kelantan from Thailand completed in 1925 (Lim Heng Kow, 1978). The road system also extended the reach of modern communications, but mainly in the west. A narrow and winding road to the east coast at Kuantan was completed in 1915, but it carried little traffic for many years (Cant, 1973: 86).

Between 1900 and 1923, therefore, the western side of the Peninsula underwent a decisive transformation. At the beginning of this period its landscape was still dominated by forest, among which were pockets of rice cultivation and associated subsistence crops, plantation agriculture, and commercial shifting cultivation, and areas increasingly being ruined by labour-intensive tin mining. There were a few towns, none of them large; there were the first railways and roads, but there was still no network. The driving force of change was large-scale investment of capital, overwhelmingly British, in the formation of tree-crop plantations, in the industrialization and major expansion of tin mining, and in the growth of infrastructure. Cultivation was not continuous by 1923, and there remained wide areas of forest, but few gaps were left along the main axis and there was rapid extension of both estate and village cultivation toward the coast and inland to the foot of the mountains. By 1923, however, the first main phase of expansion was at an end. Although the price of rubber recovered somewhat between 1916 and 1920, it never regained the peak levels of 1908-1912. A further collapse in 1921, together with growing competition from Dutch Indonesia, led to curtailment of new land alienation for rubber in 1922, though this failed to stop smallholder expansion (Lim Teck Ghee, 1977). In some villages in Selangor, the clearance of remaining forest for rubber went on until all was converted by the early 1930s (Brookfield, Samad Hadi, and Zaharah Mahmud, 1991).

Expansion of commercial cultivation elsewhere in the region

Nothing like this integrated and well-capitalized transformation took place in the east of the Peninsula or in Borneo. There was some establishment of rubber estates along the new railway line through the centre of the Peninsula, creating a focus for later development, but the small tin mines, working more limited resources than in the west, did not prosper. High transport costs made all commercial development in the inland and eastern areas of the Peninsula very vulnerable to adverse price movements (Cant, 1973).

This was even more true of eastern Sabah in Borneo, where the British North Borneo Company made early efforts in the 1880s and 1890s to establish a plantation economy on the almost empty east coast, modelled on the successful Dutch development of wrapper-leaf tobacco in eastern Sumatra. Large numbers of Chinese and Javanese immigrant workers were sponsored by the tobacco companies, with 61 plantations established by 1890 around the many bays and far up the rivers, seeking out the best soils. Sales of land and profits from export duty on the tobacco allowed the company to pay its first divi dend to shareholders. In 1896, 55 per cent of the total revenue came from tobacco. When the industry began to suffer from the introduction of tariffs by the United States (the chief buyer), the company was able to use its available funds to invest in transport on the more populous western side of the territory, where a railway was speculatively constructed between 1896 and 1905 (Kaur, 1994). This made it possible to attract a number of entrepreneurs who planted rubber during the boom years. In 1928 there remained some 30 company estates, with a mean area of 1,300 ha (Naval Intelligence Division, 1944: II, 486). Although this made rubber Sabah's principal export, and also led to a good deal of smallholder planting, the scale remained quite small. The company lacked the means to attract any significant part of the large new flow of immigrant labour from India that served the Peninsular estates, although many Chinese were recruited to build the railway and were granted land to settle permanently (Kaur, 1994).12

In Indonesia, rubber was introduced almost as early as it was in the Peninsula, but the main development of new plantations took place in Sumatra and also Java. By the second decade of the new century, the Sumatran plantations became the principal competitors of the Peninsular estates. Dutch refusal to cooperate in the restrictions that were applied in British Malaya in the 1920s, in an attempt to prevent perceived "over-production,'' provided both estates and smallholders in Dutch Indonesia with the opportunity for rapid expansion, which continued until the global depression of the 1930s.13

In Kalimantan, too, the few estates quickly planted rubber. In South Kalimantan, leaf-tobacco and coffee estates set up in the Hulu Sungai in the 1880s and 1890s were already mainly planted in rubber by 1907 (Lindblad, 1988). However, a much greater volume of planting was undertaken by Banjarese smallholder farmers. Pilgrims returning from Mecca brought seedlings with them from Singapore, and by 1924 there were almost 9 million trees in 33,000 gardens in the Hulu Sungai (Lindblad, 1988: 63, citing Velsing, 1925: 213). A further important district for both planting and production was the lower Kapuas basin in West Kalimantan, where both Malay and Chinese farmers established large areas of rubber, exporting through Pontianak to Singapore (Ozinga, 1940). In recent years this has become the dominant rubberproducing region in Borneo.

After 1920, Dayak farmers further inland in Borneo also began to plant rubber in former shifting-cultivation fields. In addition, considerable areas of forest around villages were cleared and planted to rubber, far inland up the rivers in West Kalimantan, all without any persuasion by government (Helliwell, 1990). By the late 1920s, Dayak farmers were planting rubber along the Barito and Mahakam rivers in South and East Kalimantan (Lindblad, 1988), and by the 1930s in the upper Kapuas in West Kalimantan (Dove, 1993). The pattern was much the same as in Sarawak. Rubber was introduced by traders - Chinese in Sarawak, mainly Malay in Kalimantan. Even at a remote village far up the Tinjar River in Sarawak, 35 rubber gardens were established before World War II (Lien, 1987: 146). Today, Hevea brasiliensis is often found in scattered clusters among forests of fruiting and other useful trees around villages of inland Borneo. The trees are tapped quite frequently except where other income opportunities are available, and sheet rubber is made for sale.

Environmental consequences of the first development wave

The western Peninsula

Some of the environmental consequences of the first development wave, especially of what took place between the 1890s and about 1923, were very serious. For the western Peninsula, where they were greatest, they are discussed in some detail by Aiken et al. (1982: 109125). The effect of tin mining was devastating, especially of sluicing (lampanning) by water races and, after the entry of European capital, by hydraulic mining using powerful hoses. Large masses of tailings were created, and great quantities of silt and sand were fed into the rivers. Upland erosion was increased by the clearing undertaken for associated works and to obtain wood for construction and fuel, including charcoal used for smelting in the early days, and by small miners even in this century. Many villages, and one whole town, below the tin fields were forced to move by flooding rivers, raised by the quantity of bed-load being moved downstream and widened by the increased erosive power of the laden waters. Irrigated rice below the tin workings, where it had not been destroyed by mining, was ruined by flooding and silting, or by complete disruption of its water supply. The deterioration of agricultural land generated a great deal of concern and during this period one of its consequences was a substantial new increase in the practice of shifting cultivation on upland soils by farmers deprived of their wet-rice lands (Lim Teck Ghee, 1977: 48-49).

When floating dredges were introduced after 1912, to increase ultimately to more than 100 units, areas that had hitherto been almost unworkable, because of the impossibility of keeping holes sufficiently dry, became accessible to mining. They included considerable new areas of wet-rice land as well as swamp. The dredges made large ponds and, in the Kinta valley of Pêrak where the most intensive dredging was undertaken, a moon-like but wet desert was created, described in graphic terms a generation ago by Ooi Jin Bee (1955), and still remarkably little softened in the early 1990s. In the Klang valley and its tributaries, around Kuala Lumpur, the destruction of a former agricultural landscape was almost as complete. The capital city, established initially from a set of mining camps amid this desert and the forested hills around it, attained a metropolitan population of almost 2 million people before its expansion began to encroach onto the lands of still-active Malay rural villages (Brookfield, Samad Hadi, and Zaharah Mahmud, 1991).

Enactments intended to enforce control measures were introduced as early as 1895, but they proved singularly ineffective. In a survey undertaken toward the end of the 1930s, Fermor (1939) estimated that over 16 million tonnes of sediment annually had been fed into Peninsular rivers between 1909 and 1939. It was not until the late 1920s that even partially effective control measures were introduced, but the industry continued to receive "gentle" treatment from the authorities. Fermor's report advocated that land rich in tin be excised from Malay reservations, and thus become available for sale; in fact a number of such excisions had already been made (Lim Teck Ghee, 1977: 215).

Clearance of forest for rubber also had the inevitable consequence of a rapid increase in runoff and erosion, although, where rubber was established on land already degraded to grassland by earlier cultivation, the benefit even of the light cover provided by the rubber trees was significant; it was sufficient to shade out Imperata cylindrica and permit a more complete ground cover to become established. Unfortunately, clean weeding, adopted from tree-crop methods in Europe, was generally practiced on most of the early estates and on some smallholder land as well. It was quickly found that humus and topsoil were lost from plantations made on sloping land. In areas reclaimed from exhausted pepper, gambler, and tapioca land, there was even quite widespread tree death from this cause (Aiken et al., 1982: 122). In 1926, during a La Nina event, massive floods devastated valleys throughout the Peninsula, carrying so much suspended sediment that they are remembered as the great "red floods" (banjir merah) of that year (Winstedt, 1927). This event, in particular, led to some changes in practice in both rubber planting and tin mining, but they were slow to be adopted. The need for terracing and other forms of soil conservation was certainly perceived, and on some estates applied (Dakeyne, 1929), but in the depressed economic conditions of the time there was no general change beyond a laboursaving end to clean weeding.

Seeking to put the damage done by tin mining into perspective, Fermor (1939: 149-159) suggested that an average of 3 in. (7.6 cm) of soil had been lost from under Peninsular rubber since 1905, yielding an annual loss into the rivers about twice that which he attributed to tin mining. This piece of guesswork is often cited in the literature, but it should not be taken at face value. Soong et al. (1980: 2) found very much higher suspended sediment loads in rivers below tin-mining areas than below tree-crop agricultural land, even in the 1970s. However, despite subsequent revegetation of the ground, losses from land under rubber may still be up to 16 times higher than from slopes under undisturbed forest (Aiken et al., 1982: 173-175). One qualitative account by a returning absentee revisiting his village in 1951 may stand for what has certainly been a widespread experience (Yusoff Hj. Ahmad, 1983: 375):

The once lush and luxuriant kampung was beginning to show signs of ageing. The destruction of the natural vegetation [for rubber] around the kampung had caused much silting in the valleys and the yield per crop of padi was becoming less and less. People continued to plant except in areas where the level of the land had become too high to be irrigated and the water wheels which were once useful had disappeared nearly forty years earlier.

Environmental consequences in Borneo

There is also material on the environmental losses from new development in Sumatra in this period and subsequently (Pelzer, 1978, 1982), but much less has yet been assembled from Borneo. We can suppose that the planting of rubber on land that would again have been cleared and burnt in Kalimantan and Sarawak probably had beneficial net effects, but wherever land was taken from both grassland and forest for rubber there would have been increased soil losses. However, most smallholders in Kalimantan did not practice clean weeding and planted their trees close together. This was noted with disapproval by officials during the 1920s, who expected the plantings to fail. Creation of a smallholder "rubber forest' grassland in fact proved environmentally sound, once earl with fire were overcome, and much less likely to cause e' estate techniques (Bauer, 1948).


In evaluating more recent events and their impact in the and Borneo, the consequences of an earlier period of majortransformation should be borne in mind. Its damage is now in sure healed, although an ugly legacy remains. We should also bear in mind that shifting cultivation, the subject of severe controversy was very probably more widespread in the past, and that damage if there was such - may too have been healed should be recalled that the forest has been a used environment millennia. Merely to examine the present and recent past without also studying the historical experience is to risk drawing very in correct conclusions, and in no field so seriously as that of present "endangerment." This essay in historical evaluation of a complete environmental history, has identified a number of questions that need to be taken into account in the chapters that follow.


1. More detail on these products is presented in chapter 6.

2. An abrupt decline in the mid-fourteenth century may have been related to the Black Death, although there is no direct evidence to support this hypothesis. However, reason to suppose that a major trading centre linked to China and India would have received this infection at an early stage.

3. See chapter 1, note 2.

4. Christian missionaries have never been free to operate among the animist Orang Asli of the Peninsula, where, from the outset of colonial control, the Malay sultans of remained the guardians of the Islamic faith within their territories. There among the Chinese and other immigrants but very few others.

5. The political division of the Peninsula into the colonially ruled Straits Se federated Malay states centrally administered from Kuala Lumpur, and seven unfederated states in which Malay sultans remained nominally in full charge evolved in of the nineteenth century and endured until after World War II. In practice, British political control, but with considerable administrative confusion (Emerson, 1937)

6. From the time of establishment of Dutch control until the 1950s there administrative divisions (Afdelingen) in Kalimantan: West Borneo, and South Borneo. The former is the present province of West Kalimantan, while the divided into the three modern provinces of East, South, and Central Kalimantan. We use the names of the modern provinces throughout to describe events within their mental damage in both western Sarawak and West Kalimantan, this was of much lesser magnitude than in the Peninsula (Jackson, 1968b).

8. The Brooke government opened another coal mine in 1888 on territory that, even now, still belongs to Brunei. It was financially unsuccessful, but not finally closed until 1925. Chew (1990: 191) remarks that "In terms of capital expended, coal mining was the most important economic activity other than planting which the Brookes invested in directly. The significance of coal mining to the Brookes challenges the commonly accepted notion that Brooke economic philosophy discouraged speculative capitalist enterprise."

9. The very earliest European agricultural enterprise in Eastern Sundaland was probably in South Kalimantan in the vicinity of Banjarmasin, where the infamous Alexander Hare had pepper plantations using Javanese prison labour, set up during the short period of British control of Java between 1810 and 1816 (Irwin, 1955). Two Europeans tried commercial indigo in the Hulu Sungai in the 1870s. The Agrarian Regulation was initially introduced in Java in 1870 to replace the Cultivation System with private estates, and extended to South and East Kalimantan in 1888 to encourage commercial tobacco production (Potter, 1993a).

10. Brazilian rubber production, on a collection basis from wild sources, also continued to prosper until the slump of 1913, and the peak of Amazonian prosperity in fact coincided with the first period of rapid plantation establishment in the Peninsula.

11. It is remarkable, and rather disturbing from the point of view of disease resistance, that almost all the rubber in South-East Asia derives from only 26 parent trees in the Tapajos valley of Brazil. The success of plantation rubber in South-East Asia arises from the absence of the South American leaf blight (Microcyclus ulei), which brought failure in Brazil. Away from its home region, Hevea brasiliensis was secure from this blight (Schultes, 1984; Smith and Schultes, 1990).

12. In Sarawak there was no such company-based drive, although there was one attempt to set up a large company estate. Brooke policy was against large-scale commercial development, except of minerals. Rubber was, however, quite extensively planted by Chinese settlers, as well as by Malays and Dayaks. Ultimately four quite small estates emerged, all Chinese owned (Jackson, 1968b: 89). However, from the 1930s until the 1960s rubber was the principal export of Sarawak and over 90 per cent of this came from smallholdings.

13. Oil-palm, which at that stage had only a limited and rather experimental place in the plantation economy of the Peninsula, was also strongly pressed by Dutch planters in Sumatra from about 1911 onward, so that by the 1930s Dutch Indonesia had the largest palm oil production in the world. Most Sumatran plantations, whether of rubber or of oil-palm, were made by clearing primary forest.

The background of modern economic transformation

An explanation

This chapter is an essay rather than an analysis, designed to link the historical discussion of the previous chapter to the series of more detailed treatments of particular aspects of possible "endangerment" in part II. It draws on a large literature, and especially on a few good summaries of parts of that literature. It is, in consequence, lightly referenced. It attempts to cover, in a few pages, the transformation of two countries, and of a specific region that forms part of these two countries, through the most important period in their modern history. ¹

The political evolution of the region

The Japanese army and navy conquered all of the Malay Peninsula and Borneo, and the surrounding region, between December 1941 and March 1942 and, except that they were ejected from Sabah and eastern Kalimantan in the last months of the war, remained in possession until August 1945. A Republic of Indonesia was declared in that month, but the Dutch attempted to extinguish it and did not withdraw until 1949; the constitution of the present unitary republic was drawn up in 1950. The Peninsula and Singapore were reoccupied by the British without opposition, but some areas remained in the effective control of the communist-dominated, anti-Japanese resistance forces, which embarked on a general insurrection in 1948 (Stubbs, 1989). This insurrection gained some ground until 1951 and, though its area of control was thereafter quickly reduced, the rebellion sputtered on in a diminishing number of forested and forest-fringe areas until the 1980s. The Peninsula became independent as the Federation of Malaya in 1957. Singapore - until then still quasi-colonial - joined this federation in 1963 but was unilaterally excised to total independence in 1965. The pre-war private regimes were not permitted to return to Sarawak and Sabah, and the two states became British colonies until, at the same time as Singapore, they were federated with the Peninsula in 1963 to form Malaysia. Brunei refused to join and became independent, in effect immediately but formally only in 1984. The Sukarno regime that ruled Indonesia in the early 1960s challenged the new Malaysia, and a low-key war, fought mainly along the border between Sarawak and West Kalimantan, lasted until shortly after Sukarno was toppled from power in the aftermath of the 1965 coup in Indonesia. It was not, therefore, until the late 1960s that postcolonial turmoil finally gave way to peace and order in the two new countries, ushering in the period of state-guided capitalism that has dominated the whole subsequent pattern of development.

The pattern of insecurity between 1945 and 1969

The main locales of violent action after the 1945 campaign in northeastern Borneo were in Java, western Peninsular Malaysia, and Sumatra - outside the region with which we are mainly concerned. The Malaysian rebellion began in 1948 and enjoyed considerable success in its early years, until 1950 when the boom created by the Korean war both gave the government additional resources and removed the main causes of popular discontent (Stubbs, 1989). Quite large parts of the eastern Peninsula were dominated by the communist rebels until the mid-1950s, and some even later.

Extensive areas of Borneo were also caught up in the insecurity of these years. Wartime repression by the Japanese, and guerilla action against them, were particularly violent in West Kalimantan, where many thousands were killed. In South and East Kalimantan an intense struggle against return of the Dutch began in late 1945, and this mainly Banjarese guerilla movement was organized by 1948 within the structure of the new republican army. The Dayaks were more scared of the Malay Banjarese than of the Dutch, and kept out of this conflict, which ended with independence in 1949. Later, in the mid

1950s, some groups of Muslims in South Kalimantan revolted in favour of an Islamic state, and their rebellion did not peter out until 1963 (Miles, 1976). A similar revolt on the part of the powerful Ngaju Dayaks for autonomy and separation from Islamic South Kalimantan led to the eventual formation of the separate province of Central Kalimantan and the creation of a new capital, Palangkaraya. Although not on the scale of the anti-centralist risings of the 1950s in eastern Indonesia, Sulawesi, and Sumatra, the violence in southeastern Kalimantan greatly disrupted normal life and led to substantial movement into the towns.

When the British territories in Borneo were in the process of being attached to a federal Malaysia in the early 1960s, there was a brief and abortive revolt by a North Kalimantan National Army in Brunei and adjacent areas of Sarawak and Sabah, certainly with Indonesian support. This was followed by the 1962-1965 "confrontation" miniwar (Konfrontasi) between Indonesia and the new Malaysia, and there was an associated but ideologically separate insurrection among mainly Chinese communists in western Sarawak. After settlement between Indonesia and Malaysia the communists were hunted down on both sides of the border. Dayaks in West Kalimantan, who had stood aside from the earlier conflict, then rose against the Chinese and some other groups; several thousand were killed and up to 50,000 of those who had survived the Japanese fled to the coast (Jenkins, 1978). In East Kalimantan there was only sporadic guerilla fighting against the Dutch, and some violence during the Konfrontasi period. The Dayaks again remained neutral. Borneo's other sensitive border, with the Philippines, never became the scene of military conflict, only of diplomatic hostility. There have, however, been occasional incidents more in the nature of piracy on the coast of Sabah, to which the Philippines has been reluctant to relinquish its historical claim, even into the 1990s.

Breaking out from the colonial economies

The classic colonial economies of Indonesia and Malaysia in the 1930s were, notwithstanding the political turmoil, soon re-established in the late 1940s, and in both countries endured some years beyond independence. The "cold war" and especially the Korean war of 1950-1953, with its accompanying boom in raw material prices, were of major assistance in this process. Both mining and plantation economies flourished again in all areas not directly affected by war fare and insurrection, and there were also sharp increases in wages and private business incomes. When this period came to an end in the 1950s new policies were required, but the two countries were, at that time, under regimes of very different philosophy. Under Sukarno, Indonesia sought to follow socialist and nationalist paths, nationalizing all Dutch enterprises in 1958 and discouraging all other foreign business except the petroleum industry. Exports suffered severely. Chronic balance-of-payments problems and hyperinflation were ineffectually addressed by various forms of state intervention; by the time of the 1965 coup the economy was in a state of collapse, both internationally and internally. In some parts of the country there was famine during these years Through all this, however, the charismatic Sukarno retained his great popularity. His replacement, after defeat of a communist coup in which his personal role remains unclear, did not come easily. Many thousands were killed, and the critically important, Chinese-controlled commercial sector suffered severe damage before the army-backed "New Order" regime of Suharto became firmly established by 1967.

Under its post-1951 colonial rulers, and under the first national leaders of the independent state after 1957, Malaya, and later Malaysia, followed a consistent set of policies operating a wide-open, free-enterprise economy in which ownership and control remained overwhelmingly in foreign hands. Even before independence, however, this was supplemented by interventionist policies aimed particularly at upgrading the economic position of the majority Malay population group, at that time still overwhelmingly rural. Export orientation has been a consistent theme in Malaysia, a brief flirtation with import-substitution industrialization only excepted. The interventionism, begun in the mid-1950s, was designed also to increase the output of cash crops, and it took the particular forms of financing rubber research and replanting and setting up the Federal Land Development Authority (FELDA) to clear and plant large areas of forest, then settle them with landless and near-landless peasants from the impoverished rice and rubber villages. In this and other ways, government set out to create new national capital in an economy that suffered such severe losses through profit and income repatriation that it too was threatened with balance-of-payments problems, notwithstanding the enormous success of its exports. However, an essentially unenterprising manufacturing sector remained overwhelmingly in Chinese hands, and formal urban employment grew only slowly. As rural Malays began to migrate to the cities in large numbers, they therefore found only menial and unrewarding employment in a growing "informal" tertiary sector. This fed resentment that was transferred into the political arena, and the resulting explosion of racial violence in May 1969 was as important an event in Malaysian history as was the September 1965 coup in Indonesia. Both led to new policies that enormously accelerated the pace of transformation.

New Order and New Economic Policy

Capitalism, with intervention and guidance

The task in Indonesia was to restore economic growth and ensure its better distribution, restore the confidence needed to attract foreign capital and aid, improve agricultural production, and create the foundations of an industrial economy. The New Order government faced formidable immediate tasks in checking hyperinflation, reversing some of the nationalization that had been carried out, and dismantling a large part of the economic regulation and apparatus of inefficient state enterprise bodies created under Sukarno. Much of this was accomplished very speedily although, as Hill (1994) shows, without truly relinquishing central economic guidance; many of the parastatal corporations remained intact. Progress toward economic liberalism might have gone further than it did but for the enormous windfall of the oil price rise in 1973/74, which enabled Indonesia to fund much of its development programme for the next 12 years from oil revenues. Only after the price of oil and some other export commodities collapsed in the mid-1980s did substantial progress toward economic liberalism resume.

Malaysia already had strong economic growth and a stable currency in 1969, but there was a great need to slant this growth in favour of the Malays, to reduce foreign ownership without discouraging new investment, and to diversify the economy away from its dependence on a narrow range of industrial raw materials. As in Indonesia, Malaysia's "New Economic Policy" espoused a philosophy of free-market capitalism but, in practice, modified this significantly in the pursuit of national goals. Thus existing parastatal enterprises and authorities were strengthened, and others were set up for agricultural, industrial, and trading purposes. In the process, national corporations acting mainly on behalf of the Malay ethnic group bought controlling shares in many multinational enterprises over a period of years. Regulations provided for progress toward a pattern of capital ownership in which at least one-third would be Malay, for the most part held through organizations set up for this purpose, and strong preference was given to Malays in employment policy, the award of contracts, and opportunities for advancement.

Macroeconomic policy in the two countries has therefore tended to converge. Whereas Indonesia moved toward a liberal economic system without really getting there, post-1969 Malaysia found it had a tooliberal economy, and moved away from it without denying the basic philosophy. Although the oil boom gave Malaysia less advantage than it did Indonesia, it similarly assisted national financing of the development drive during the same 1973-1985 period. Late in this period under Dr. Mahathir Mohamad, a fervent Malay nationalist who became prime minister in 1981, a philosophy of guided management not unlike that of the Indonesian New Order took root. Hence, when the mid-1980s depression also forced a return to liberalism in Malaysia and the abandonment of some objectives, a strong nationally directed core still remained, capable of undertaking major new directions of policy.2 Indeed, throughout the past 20 years, Malaysian national planning has been firmer than Indonesia's, where successive "Repelita" plans have required modification soon after their appearance, and planning targets have more consistently failed to be met (Hill, 1994). To note these similarities is not to deny the great differences in economic achievement between the two countries, or the radical differences in the patterns taken by state investment. Malaysia is now going beyond its "New Economic Policy" to a "New Development Policy," which aims to attain the status of a developed country by the year 2020 (Government of Malaysia, 1991b); Indonesia's now-old "New Order" may be changing, but it has not yet formally sought new directions.

In the rest of this chapter we comparatively examine some specific sectors across the two countries, with emphasis particularly on their relevance to the region that was still largely forest in 1950 - Borneo and the eastern side of the Peninsula. Because of its macroeconomic significance, we begin with the energy sector, then turn to industrialization and only after that to the land.

Energy exports and production

Revival of oil exploration and development

By 1960 the land-based petroleum production of most Borneo fields was growing only slowly or was in decline, whether from reduction of resources or for political reasons; on the Peninsula there was no petroleum production. This was, however, a period in which improved techniques of exploration, and especially of offshore drilling, were being perfected elsewhere in the world. In the new political climate they were soon applied in South-East Asia. The first major offshore discoveries were made from Brunei and Sarawak, and in the second half of the 1960s the first offshore wells came on stream.3 In Indonesia, where Shell sold its assets to the Sukarno government in 1965, the introduction of production-sharing agreements by the Suharto administration in 1966 stimulated new investment in development and in exploration, both on land and offshore. Total Indonesian output more than doubled between 1968 and 1973 (Arndt, 1983: 138). In Malaysia, exports increased fourfold between 1965 and 1971, but a part of this was re-exported Brunei crude; when Shell completed new refining facilities in Brunei, Malaysian exports stagnated for several years (Government of Malaysia, 1971, 1976).

The oil and gas boom, and its sequel

To Indonesia and Malaysia, the first oil-price "shock" of 1973 was of enormous benefit, and the subsequent further price doubling in 1979 held boom conditions in place for a full decade. Even though oil exports were still quantitatively small at the time, the price rise eliminated all balance-ofpayments problems. There was great stimulus to new exploration, which soon also led to large discoveries of natural gas. By the late 1970s, the existence of more oil pools and of big gas resources had been established off large sections of the eastern and northern coasts of Borneo, and also in the western South China Sea off the north-eastern Peninsula. By the later 1980s a large part of what had been discovered was developed. Figure 3.1 details the present distribution of the resource and its exploitation around Borneo.

After the boom period was over in 1986, 56 per cent of Indonesia's exports by value were still derived from petroleum and natural gas, though this had declined to 37 per cent by 1991/92; for Malaysia, the proportion was much less, 18 per cent; while for Brunei, which is a major producer of both oil and gas, it reached 97 per cent (Rigg, 1991: 164). Even with lower prices, oil and gas still put East Kalimantan in first place among Indonesia's provinces in terms of wealth creation, providing more than 5 per cent of the nation's GDP (Statistik Indonesia, 1992), with a 1990 per capita income above US$2,800. Brunei, with a per capita GDP of over US$17,500, is among the world's richest countries (The Far East and Australasia, 1994). The contribution of energy production and processing to the income of Sarawak is much smaller, but gas production was forecast to double between 1990 and 1995, and this will principally feed Sarawak's enlarged LNG plant at Bintulu (Government of Malaysia, 1991a). The refineries and LNG plants, in both parts of Borneo, are also the major national sources of inorganic fertilizer, and furnish an important regional export.

Fig. 3.1 Oil and gas fields, refineries, and LNG plants in Borneo (Sources: Government of Malaysia 1991a; Valencia, 1991)

Borneo as a major future source of energy

With exploration continuing into ever-deeper waters, there seems no doubt that production, especially of gas, will continue to expand through the 1990s. However, the rising rate of energy demand in the region, coupled with oilresource limitations, leads to predictions that both Indonesia and Malaysia may become net importers of petroleum by as soon as the year 2000 (e.g. Government of Malaysia, 1991a; Clark, 1993; Hardjono, 1994). Natural gas, on the other hand, will certainly last well into the twenty-first century. In both countries, principal electricity generation is therefore being shifted from scarce oil to abundant gas, in Malaysia the latter providing 9 per cent in 1985, 24 per cent in 1990, and a projected 75 per cent in 1995 (Government of Malaysia, 1991a: 308).

With a view to the longer term however, increasing attention is also now being given to the substantial resources of mainly soft, but lowsulphur and lowash coal in southern and eastern Kalimantan, Sarawak, and Sabah, as major future energy sources for the two countries. The sedimentary sequences around large parts of northern, eastern, and southern Borneo exhibit characteristic successions through sandstones and clays to coal measures, some of sufficient size to be already attracting the interest of multinational corporations, which plan development for export to Japan in particular. One large Australian-based multinational is already involved in East Kalimantan, with an open-cast mine employing over 2,000 workers exporting steaming coal to Japan (Reuters News Service, 29 March 1993). Much of this coal is Pliocene or even Pleistocene and at shallow depth. Other resources, however, lie in bedded seams in already folded or block-faulted Miocene deposits well inland. Very large resources also exist north of the Rejang River in central Sarawak. Another, currently the subject of controversy since its exploitation would entail destruction of a unique floristic complex, occupies an enclosed and unpopulated synclinal basin within sandstone, in Sabah. East and South Kalimantan's Tertiary deposits are measured at nearly 2 billion tonnes out of 4.3 billion for the whole of Indonesia (Department of Mines and Energy, quoted in Indonesian Commercial Newsletter, 9 December 1991), but inferred reserves may be much larger. Although Indonesian coal production increased from 2 to over 14 million tonnes between 1986 and 1991 (Indonesian Commercial Newsletter, 8 March 1993), mining is still on a very small scale in comparison with the total size of the resource.

Hydroelectricity is also receiving closer attention, especially in the Peninsula and Sarawak. There are eight hydroelectric plants operating in the Peninsula and one in Sarawak, collectively generating about as much electricity as is fired by imported coal. A proposed dam at Ulu Tembeling, on the upper Pahang system in the Peninsula, was very seriously considered in the 1970s, but strongly opposed on environmental grounds. Another smaller scheme in the northern Peninsula has produced a good deal of controversy because of an apparent link between British aid in its construction and the supply of other British products to Malaysia, including armaments.

The largest proposal, however, is in Sarawak. The Bakun scheme on the Rejang in Sarawak would, in its original design, have supplied enough power for export by cable - if this proved technically feasible - to the Peninsula, as well as meeting all the needs of Sarawak and Sabah. The Bakun dam would have displaced a considerable number of people, and planning had gone forward some way before it was halted by the depression in the mid-1980s. However, with Malaysia's emphasis on further industrialization with expanding power needs, the Bakun project has recently been revived in a new form. In a concession to critics, the project now comprises a series of at least four smaller dams rather than a single large one, thus reducing - but also spreading impacts on the environment and the Iban people (Renter, Asia Pacific Business Report, 17 September 1993). Other and smaller schemes, such as the Batang Ai dam in western Sarawak, have already totally displaced numbers of people from their land.4

Thus far, there is only a single hydroelectric plant in Kalimantan, in the drought-prone south-east, and it performs poorly. However, the potential hydroelectric resources of Borneo might reach at least 60,000 MW; the Sarawak potential alone is estimated at 20,000 MW. As energy generation shifts away from hydrocarbons, these sources must be expected to attract increasing attention in the future.

Minerals, industry, and the cities

Collapse of a mining industry

Up to the mid-1980s, the principal metallic mineral produced in the region remained tin from Peninsular Malaysia and the Indonesian islands of Bangka and Belitung. Malaysia's 450 mines gave it a preeminent position, with 32 per cent of world production in 1980. By 1984, competition from new lower-cost mines in Brazil had already led to a sharp reduction in both Malaysian and Indonesian output, but the world price was sustained until October 1985, when it crashed by 50 per cent. The Malaysian industry then shrank rapidly, surpassed in 1988 by Indonesia, which continued to support its mines with large subsidies (Burke, 1990). By 1992, restructuring and employment reduction had reportedly brought the Indonesian mines back to at least the edge of profitability (H. Hill, pers.comm.). Malaysian production, however, has declined further and, for the first time, tin mining rates no mention in the current national plan (Government of Malaysia, 1991a). The last floating dredge ceased operation in 1993 (G. Burke, pers. comm.).

Prospects for large-scale mining of metallic minerals currently focus only on Kalimantan, where there is a large gold mine operated by an Australian-based multinational, deep inland and at present accessible principally by helicopter, at Kelian in East Kalimantan. It employs almost 900 people (Callick, 1993). There is also a major nickel prospect close to the border between West and East Kalimantan, costly to develop but very likely to go ahead within the 1990s. Beyond this, small-scale gold mining continues along a number of rivers in Central Kalimantan, much of it illegal but collectively significant (G. Burke, pers. comm.). Mineral search continues, and there is a scatter of small enterprises, but the expectations of the late 1980s have dwindled with the actual or likely failure of a number of the smaller foreign companies involved. The fact that Borneo's minerals were important in regional trade for 1,000 years has little relevance today.


The major industrialization that has taken place since about 1970 in the western Peninsula, and its much more limited spillover into the eastern Peninsula, is more background to this volume than central to its story. It is discussed in numerous books, including one edited by one of us (Brookfield, 1994d). We are really concerned here only with the part that is vertically linked to resource extraction, especially extraction from the forests, and this is discussed in chapter 5.

What happened in the Peninsula after 1970 was a major drive toward export-oriented industrialization, with an initial emphasis on simple rawmaterial processing and textiles, then on electronics, and moving latterly into heavier industries, and - less successfully - to more sophisticated downstream production from domestic raw mat erials. The effect was to move manufactured exports into first place by the early 1980s, and also to make manufacturing the largest sector in terms of employment creation. By 1990, two-thirds of manufactured exports were electrical, electronic, and textile goods, with electrical goods forming the largest single category. The base remains narrow, however. Fong (1990: 79) remarks that "it is ironical that Malaysia has been successful in areas such as electronics-component assembly and textile manufacturing where it has no comparative advantage other than an appropriate workforce - and highly unsuccessful in downstream processing and manufacture of products based on commodities of which it is the world's major exporter." A further important change lay in the fact that Malays formed almost two-thirds of the new industrial workers by the late 1980s (Government of Malaysia, 1991a: 129). Together with the growth of service employment among Malays this had important consequences for the rural economy, reviewed in chapter 5.

Especially during the late 1970s and early 1980s, efforts were made to disperse manufacturing employment around the Peninsula and into Sarawak and Sabah, with the creation of a considerable number of industrial estates. These went so far as to encourage assembly of a luxury car in Sarawak for the national market. However, market forces determined that, with the signal exception of resource-based petrochemicals in Terengganu on the east coast of the Peninsula and at Bintulu in Sarawak, much the greater part of new industrial development, investment, and employment has remained concentrated in the "west coast corridor" of the Peninsula. Dispersal efforts now focus on setting up facilities for small and medium industries, and both Sarawak and Sabah share significantly in this planned new infrastructural investment (Fong, 1990; Government of Malaysia, 1991a).

The pattern of industrialization in Indonesia has been radically different. Growth in manufacturing after 1965 was geared mainly to the large domestic market, to which were added only the grandiose enterprises of the state oil monopoly. As late as the end of the 1970s, "the Indonesian manufacturing sector [was] composed of industries processing agricultural goods" (McCawley, 1981: 74). When exportbased industrialization was seriously initiated in the early 1980s, it was overwhelmingly raw material based, with plywood as the only major non-oil product. It is only since 1985 that significant diversification has taken place, but, notwithstanding further grandiose plans, this diversification has in no way yet followed the highertechnology path of Malaysian manufacturing (Hill, 1994).

There is also a significant spatial contrast between Indonesian and Malaysian industrialization, arising directly from these different development strategies. Whereas the oil and gas plants, and most associated petrochemical manufacture, of both countries are in the oil-producing areas - Borneo, Sumatra, and the east coast of the Peninsula - there is a sharp contrast between the growing concentration of other Malaysian manufacturing in the "west coast corridor" that is also the heart of the country, and the declining relative share of Java in Indonesia's total manufacturing investment and employment (Hill, 1994), though that island still dominates the industrial scene. Indonesian manufacturing has a heavier dependence on national raw materials than that of Malaysia, and a lower dependence on the growing web of technology and services. However, this is changing, especially in the large conurbation, "Jabotabek," around Jakarta. The strongest relative growth in recent years has been in the periphery, and in Kalimantan and Sumatra in particular. This concentration on resource-intensive manufacturing may, however, be starting to decline, with the recent (post-1988) surge in the importance of textiles, clothing, and footwear, exports of which now surpass those of plywood. Hill (1992) notes that the slow growth of plywood exports in recent years reflects the beginning of supply constraints, especially in Kalimantan. The labour-intensive industries of clothing and footwear are mainly located in Java, as are some alternative wood-based industries, such as furniture, which draw their raw materials from several provinces. Plywood and sawmilling are located closer to the supply sources away from Java, as will be the proposed new pulp and paper plants.

The growth of cities

This contrast in manufacturing notwithstanding, the pattern of modern urbanization is, at least superficially, similar in both countries. The dominant feature is the rapid growth of major cities in the national heartlands. Java has two cities more populous than any in Malaysia, and Jakarta is the world's eighth-largest city. However, Kuala Lumpur, together with its satellites, now has a higher proportion of the Malaysian national population than Jakarta's share of the whole Indonesian population. Though technically not within our region, the transnational conurbation (or "growth triangle" as it is nowadays termed) comprising Singapore together with Johor Bharu in Malaysia and Batam in Indonesia is only a little larger than the whole Kuala

Lumpur conurbation, with almost 4 million people in the former and over 3 million in the latter.

Of more concern to us, however, is urbanization in areas away from the national heartlands. East of the main range the Peninsula has no city larger than 230,000 people; there are four in Borneo that are of greater size. Because of problems of boundary definition, ill accommodated to the modern spread of quasi-urban buildings, data on town size are notoriously hard to interpret in this whole region, and especially so in Malaysian Borneo (Samad Hadi, 1990). On the basis of a realistic definition of "urban," however, Banjarmasin in south-east Kalimantan, with almost 500,000 people, is the largest city in either Borneo or the eastern Peninsula.

With the exception only of Kota Bharu, Palangkaraya, and Banjarbaru/Martapura, all the major centres are on the coast or are riverine seaports, albeit that some of the modern deepwater ports or anchorages - as at Kuching, Bandar Seri Begawan, and Sibu - now lie well downstream from the towns. Inland towns are quite numerous, but almost all are small. Only a few exceed 20,000 and most have fewer than 15,000 people. Except in Sabah and the eastern Peninsula, the great majority are on rivers navigable to small craft, although improvement in roads is reducing the significance of riverine location.

The towns of Borneo are the location of much of the manufacturing industry found in the island, including all the larger plywood mills and sawmills. Before the logging boom commenced in the late 1960s, Banjarmasin, Pontianak, and Kuching derived much of their small industrial income from rubber processing, the principal peasant cash crop since the early 1900s. Oil and timber are now the dominant industrial raw materials. Samarinda, Balikpapan, and Tarakan combine a population of 1 million people. Together with the industrial centre at Bontang, with its large LNG plant, they constitute a typically immigrant, "enclave" economy - 49 per cent of East Kalimantan's population is urban. Samarinda has one of the world's largest concentrations of sawmills, plywood factories, and other timber industries (Schindele and Thoma, 1989).

The contrast between the two countries persists. With the exception of the oil and gas centres of Miri, Bintulu, and Kemaman, the larger towns of Malaysian Borneo and the eastern Peninsula are all old-established regional centres with little industrial development.5 Most Malaysian manufacturing industry is located elsewhere. While Banjarmasin and Pontianak are even older regional centres, they and the newer cities of Samarinda and Balikpapan may be ranked among the principal industrial centres of Indonesia outside Java and North Sumatra. Substantial differences in urban character, population composition, and social conditions flow from these contrasts. We discuss the urban problems of Borneo, in particular, in greater detail in chapter 10.

Agriculture and land settlement

Agriculture in the context of growth and industrialization

Agriculture was the locus classicus of the misunderstood dual economy of prewar South-East Asia (Boeke, 1953). An impoverished but - contrary to contemporary theory - not unenterprising smallfarmer sector competed poorly for government attention and support with a highly capitalized plantation sector. Most of part II of this book is concerned with what has happened to the land, its people, and its forests in modern times. Here we trace the evolution of policy and its implementation from the 1950s to recent years, as background to that much fuller discussion.

All of Indonesia's agriculture suffered under the dislocations of the Sukarno period, small farmers and plantations alike. For the latter, a gloomy situation in which prospects appeared to be only of further immiseration inspired the "agricultural involution" of Geertz (1963) and the equally dire predictions of many other writers. In Malaysia the plantations thrived, but small farmers obtained relief only in the short period of the rubber price boom between 1950 and 1952. The price boom was of less advantage to Indonesian peasants because of both generally poorer planting stocks and, in many areas, greater disruption from violence than in the Peninsula. Efforts to expand and upgrade their production through replanting and "fringe alienation" schemes in the period through independence left most of them still in poverty.6 As in Indonesia under the later Dutch administration, efforts to improve irrigation for rice were also made by the British, and continued after independence. The social benefits were limited for a long time.

A perceived solution to these problems was to relieve pressure by opening up new land and settling landless and near-landless villagers. "Transmigration" from Java and Bali to the outer islands began under the Dutch (Pelzer, 1945). It was taken up again under Sukarno, with totally unrealistic goals that never even began to be achieved. In a different context, the same idea was adopted in Malaysia shortly before independence with the establishment of FELDA, briefly mentioned above. Here the object of cash-crop expansion was as important as that of poverty relief and, over time, it came to dominate. From 1956 to the end of the 1980s, and with particular vigour between 1970 and 1985, FELDA alone cleared over 6,600 km²of land in the Peninsula and a smaller area in Sabah (Sutton, 1989); it had settled some 700,000 people. Other agencies also participated, the Sabah Land Development Board being particularly vigorous in that Borneo state, so that a total of over 15,000 km²of forest was converted to various forms of agriculture (Government of Malaysia, 1981, 1986, 1991a).

When the Indonesian transmigration programme was seriously resumed in the late 1960s, it continued using the old Dutch model rather than the Malaysian model. Farmers were settled more for subsistence cultivation than for cash-crop production, and holdings were less than half the size of those allocated in Malaysia. At first mainly in Sumatra, and only recently principally in Kalimantan, about 1.7 million people were resettled from Java and Bali by the mid-1980s (Hardjono, 1986). Between 1980 and 1985 nearly 400,000 transmigrants went to Kalimantan, but numbers then declined (Statistik Indonesia, 1990). Over the 1980-1985 period, transmigration accounted for between 41 and 65 per cent of the population increase in three of the Kalimantan provinces, but for only 14 per cent of that in East Kalimantan, which has been more affected by spontaneous movement (World Bank, 1988). There was a substantial new surge of both sponsored and spontaneous transmigration in the early 1990s, especially in Kalimantan.

Only a proportion of these government settlements has been truly successful, and there have been a considerable number of almost total failures, although some schemes written off by the authorities were not entirely deserted by the settlers, and some who left have later returned (Dent Hidayati, pers. comm.). Serious weaknesses in planning are identified by Hardjono (1986, 1994), and we discuss some of these in more detail in part II. Once oil revenues declined, it proved difficult to obtain international funding for a programme that, by the mid-1980s, was already under severe criticism on economic, ecological, and even social grounds. However, in recent years the Malaysian model, with variations, has at last been adopted in Indonesia, with primary emphasis on tree crops grown for sale. Smallholder cash-crop schemes (Perkebunan Inti Rakyat, PIR) have increasingly become the pattern in recent years, based around a central processing facility or existing government estate. Settlers are able to earn a wage as well as income from their own crops. Schemes using rubber have been most common in Kalimantan, but oil-palm, sugar, and even rattan have also been employed as the cash crop.

At the national level in the two countries, the reorganization and modernization of agriculture have been of greater significance than resettlement. Both in rice and in cash crops there have been major research inputs, introduction and dissemination of new varieties, subsidization, and fundamental changes in marketing and management. Again, however, there are significant differences between Indonesia and Malaysia. High-yielding rice was first planted in Java in the late 1960s, and at the same time major programmes of extension, fertilizer subsidy, irrigation improvement, and rural credit were either initiated or strengthened. These were accelerated in the 1970s, leading to attainment of Indonesian self-sufficiency in rice in the mid 1980s.7 Similar, though smaller, efforts were made in the Peninsula, but the programme lagged, primarily because rice farming remained a low-income activity in a country where the rewards of other activities were rising; since the early 1980s Malaysian rice production has been in decline. Reasons for the failure of subsidization and related schemes in Malaysia are analysed by Fatimah (1990); the benefits of subsidization have been more to profits than to production and, under Malaysian conditions, only farms larger than the average can profitably grow rice. This analysis further illuminates an outstanding examination (Scott, 1985) of social inequality in a Malaysian rice community undergoing change.

With cash crops, on the other hand, Malaysia has taken the lead, particularly by creating systems of collection, marketing, and processing that, in the Peninsula, have created strong vertically integrated structures at the core of which has been FELDA - by the late 1970s already an agro-business corporation of world scale (Bahrin and Perera, 1977). Other structures have been set up to process and market smallholder rubber, and in recent years these have extended to the encouragement of downstream manufacture. Nothing of this nature has evolved in Indonesia, where, Hill (1994: 75) writes, "the history of the cash crop sector therefore appears to be one of lost opportunities. "

These efforts in food-crop and cash-crop innovation were initially heavily concentrated in the core areas of the two countries. The eastern Peninsula became a major oil-palm and rubber region, but since 1980 the same new production system has been extended into eastern Sabah with rapid growth in acreage of plantation oil-palm and cocoa (Bach), Liew, and Abdullah Sibil, 1992). This shift, which has replaced rubber as the leading cash crop, has occurred despite severe problems of labour shortage. Almost all the plantation labour force has been drawn from foreign workers (Indonesian and Filipino), many of them illegal (Kong, 1992). Such developments are leading to a gradual redistribution of population in Sabah, with a drop in the proportion of the total in the old-established, west coast districts (except Kota Kinabalu) and a rapid increase in the formerly underpopulated east coast, especially around booming Lahad Datu, which trebled in size between 1980 and 1991 (Malaysian Census, 1991), and where it is unofficially estimated that half the population consists of illegal immigrants, for the most part living in houses built on stilts over mangrove swamps and tidal flats (I. Douglas, pers. comm.).

The emphasis on plantation agriculture in Sabah has tended to bypass local small farmers, whose yields have stagnated, and the overall growth in population has led to a decline in rice self-sufficiency, from 43 per cent in 1980 to 32 per cent in 1990 (Bach), Liew, and Abdullah Sibil, 1992: 8). Special efforts are now being made to target such farmers (Gunting and Khoo, 1991; Lau and Ooi, 1992). Little has even been tried in Sarawak. Although high-yielding rice has been adopted in the major producing areas of both South and West Kalimantan, both physical and social conditions have militated against the maximization of annual yields. In the old Banjarese "rice bowl" of the Hulu Sungai in the south-east, high-yielding varieties are largely grown and South Kalimantan is an exporter of rice, but water control has been unsatisfactory. Where irrigation is available from dams in the mountain foothills, it is not always utilized to produce a second rice crop. Low levels of land ownership and rice prices that are held down by government both discourage more intensive production. In the tidal swamp areas of South and Central Kalimantan, traditional rice varieties remain characteristic and yields are low.

With the principal exception of parts of the eastern Peninsula, therefore, induced agricultural change in our region has taken the form mainly of extensification rather than intensification. It has thus been closely linked with deforestation and with the timber industry. We therefore conclude this essay with a brief review of the background of these linked forces of transformation.

Deforestation and timber extraction

Change in demand and in technology

Before World War II and in the early post-war years most tropical hardwood timber entering world trade came from countries bordering the Atlantic Ocean.8 Demand for South-East Asian timbers was selective, with emphasis particularly on teak and on certain species of great constructional value such as the Borneo ironwood (Eusideroxylon zwageri). Only in the Philippines, supplying the American market, was a more diversified trade developed, including logs and sawn timber from a number of dipterocarp species. Elsewhere, timber was widely felled and sawn for local use and, as agriculture expanded, a combination of logging and clearing destroyed large areas of lowland forest.

In the 1950s the forest industry of the Philippines was quite quickly rehabilitated after wartime destruction of equipment, and production expanded to meet a rising new market in Japan. In Borneo, some swampforest timbers, particularly ramin (Gonostylus bancanus), became important, still for the European market. Toward the end of the 1950s, Japanese demand - for hardwood logs as raw material for its timberworking industry - began to soar. Production rose rapidly through the 1960s and between 1970 and 1985 Japan alone took half the world's rising imports of sawlogs, most of it from South-East Asia. For the first time, there was substantial demand for the dipterocarp timbers of Sundaland, which, with a high merchantable density per hectare, had important comparative advantages as against the forests of Africa and the Americas. At first emphasis was placed on the group of Shorea species known as meranti, abundant in the lowland forests; later, demand widened significantly.

Exploitation of this comparative advantage called heavily on new technologies, especially the one-man chain-saw first developed in the 1950s, which made possible a great increase in productivity and, coupled with transport improvements, much deeper penetration of the forest.9 Among other innovations of significance were the outboard motor, extensively used on the rivers and bays, bigger and more powerful trucks, four-wheel drive vehicles, and especially that creature of World War II, the bulldozer. Others included the crawler tractor for hauling logs and all the equipment used in modern highlead winching, making possible extraction from increasingly steep slopes. In the rainforest environment all this costly equipment is punishingly used and has a short amortization period. Its introduction therefore brought with it a need for higher and faster returns.

Politics, economics, and management in the boom

In the Peninsula, where change began first, foresters quickly developed a system for managing extraction from the meranti-rich lowland forests - the Malayan Uniform System. This called for the creation of large gaps within which new dipterocarp seedlings would thrive, and be encouraged by poisoning unwanted species, so that a more uniform forest would become available for later extraction 60-80 years on. The system required an interest in the long-term future of the forests, but neither politics nor economics allowed this. Increasingly, the lowland forest lands were converted to agriculture after logging, and sometimes even without first extracting all the merchantable timber; in any case, no one was going to get concessions for up to 100 years in this fast-developing region.10 A "Selective System" therefore quickly took the place of the Uniform System and became necessary once extraction began to move into the more diverse forests of the hills, as it increasingly did after 1965.

The Selective System involves taking only mature trees, relying on the growth of immature trees to ensure a second harvest in the much shorter period of only some 35 years. Given that the very large, oldgrowth trees seem to be at least a century old and some are much older, the system would necessarily imply some reduction in biomass over time even if its exacting conditions are fully observed, which even now is very rare. However, few concessions have been given for longer than 20 years, and subcontracts are usually shorter. Together with the need, as well as the opportunity, for high short-term profits, the conditions were therefore created for a selective system that took far more than would permit the system to work as planned, and that approached the Uniform System in the size of gaps created.

In the Peninsula and Malaysian Borneo, concessions were rapidly extended over the upland forests after 1960. In Indonesia, the boom was delayed until after 1970 when, initially, a number of concessions were given to large multinational companies. In the absence of any real knowledge of the resource and its ecology, and with totally inadequate means of enforcing such regulations as were already in place, concessions were offered on extremely favourable terms, and were permitted to be worked without supervision, in order to develop log exports as important earners of foreign exchange. The theoretical

"annual allowable cut" was exceeded by several times in the 1970s, even in the Peninsula where regulation was far better than in any part of Borneo (Kumar, 1986). The rapidity of expansion yielded large revenues for state and provincial governments, despite low rates of royalty. Indonesia and Malaysia, with Brunei, together produced 17 per cent of the world's non-coniferous tropical timber in 1965, and 30 per cent by 1973. By the latter year, their share of world exports had risen to over 60 per cent and soon after reached the 70 per cent range around which it then stabilized to the end of the 1980s.

Rationalization and vertical integration

Timber did not share the 1973/74 price rise for oil; rather, prices dropped sharply. Production declined until about 1975, and a number of the early concessionaires withdrew. By this time, it was coming to be realized that export of unprocessed logs allowed all the profits of downstream manufacture to be captured in Japan and, by then, also Korea and Taiwan. As part of its post-1969 economic restructuring, therefore, Malaysia began to ban export of logs of some species from the Peninsula in 1972, and steadily widened the prohibition in order to build up domestic sawmilling as an industrial enterprise to diversify the economy of the new settlement regions. This did not apply to Malaysian Borneo, where few advantages in restricting log exports were seen at that time. Some of the "integrated timber complexes" set up on the Peninsula, and allocated large concession areas, have made serious efforts to develop sustainable extraction plans. However, much of the industry has remained outside this centrally guided system.

Indonesia followed suit with a higher log-export tax to encourage domestic processing in 1978; then a progressive ban on log exports was imposed in 1981, becoming complete from 1985. Although quite often described as such at the time, this was by no means a conservationist measure, but was designed to ensure the profitability of domestic sawmilling and especially plywood manufacture, an industry that Indonesia sought to capture from the East Asian countries. The capture was only partial, as Sarawak and Sabah exports increased dramatically in order to fill the gap in supply to East Asian industries. The new policy became of greater importance as the prolonged oil boom came to an end in the mid-1980s, and timber prices fell by less than those of many other commodities in the subsequent depression. Indonesia needed its plywood incomes and revenues to sustain in dependence in the planning of its own development. By 1987, Indonesia was supplying 58 per cent of all world exports of tropical plywoods, a high proportion of this from Kalimantan.

The frontier and the two nations

We take up the story from this point in the following chapters of part II. Before leaving this account of a remarkable transformation, however, it is important to stress highly important changes in regional development that have taken place during the period since World War II, and especially since 1970. The eastern side of the Peninsula has, substantially, become incorporated into the Malaysian national economy, but in the role of supplier of timber, oil, gas, palm oil, and the other products of the new settlement areas and the South China Sea. Indonesian Borneo not only has become the nation's major source of foreign exchange from oil and timber, increasingly gaining a larger share at the expense of initially dominant Sumatra, it has also become a growth area for manufacturing industry within the country. Sarawak and Sabah, still retaining a significant measure of constitutional independence, are also major suppliers of income from oil, gas, and timber for Malaysia. However, though less so than wholly independent Brunei, they are able to retain a larger share of the revenues than are the provinces of Indonesia.

What we have described in this chapter, therefore, is the incorporation of the eastern Peninsula and Borneo into the two nations in the role of "resource frontier." In his classic discussion of regional development policy, Friedmann (1966) discussed possible development paths for such regions. Where, because of their isolation, resource frontier regions cannot be merged with the core, it is clear that the exporting role that is the basis of their existence must be sustained. For their internal development, however, they need an urban focus, an agglomeration or agglomerations of a size that will provide a sufficient internal market, help diversify the economic base, reduce costs due to distance, and create a basis of community. Writing in a different and more interventionist era, Friedmann suggested the creation of regional development authorities to help accomplish these ends.

Regional development authorities were certainly created in the eastern Peninsula, where strongly Friedmannite development plans were proposed and implemented in the late 1970s and early 1980s. They still operate, but it cannot be said that they have been wholly successful.11 The Borneo territories have been less exposed to such directive regional planning, although it is becoming more fashionable to identify specific "development zones" within Indonesian provinces, and this has been done in Kalimantan. Identifying such zones and actually implementing particular plans are, however, two different things. The states of Sabah and Sarawak are themselves identified as "development regions" within Malaysia. The Second Outline Perspective Plan 1991-2000 (Government of Malaysia, 1991b) specifically states as an objective of regional development: "to progressively integrate the regional economies of the states of Sabah and Sarawak to foster national integration and to promote the complementarily of these economies with the economy of the Peninsular states." It is of major importance to evaluate how far the Borneo territories of Indonesia and Malaysia have advanced from a very peripheral "frontier" status to become sustainably developing regions within their countries. We shall return to this question in our conclusion.


1. The basic sources on developments at national level include Hill (1989, 1994); Rigg (1991); Booth (1992a); and Brookfield (1994d).

2. Malaysian public sector expenditure rose to above 50 per cent of GDP in the early 1980s but, with a privatization policy in place since 1985, has since declined by a few percentage points (Chee, 1990: 15).

3. It has been suggested that reports of the large discoveries off Brunei, announced at a critical time in 1963, played an important role in persuading the Sultan of Brunei to remain outside the Malaysian Federation (Leake, 1990).

4. One place submerged was an anthropological field site of Padoch (1982a, 1982b). She found during a visit in 1992 that her report has now become of particular value to the people of that community as the sole written record of their past (C. Padoch, pers. comm.).

5. Within Brunei, the oil town of Seria has a similar role to Miri and Bintulu. Bandar Seri Begawan is essentially the national capital and little more.

6. "Fringe alienation" allocated and assisted the clearing and planting with rubber of remaining forest around villages, mainly in hill country. Though it continued into the 1970s, much of the effort was wasted, and large areas have reverted to secondary forest. Small-farmer rubber became the object of a sustained rehabilitation drive, which still continues under overlapping authorities.

7. This history is recounted in detail by Fox (1991, 1993).

8. The story of deforestation and timber extraction, the subject of a large and still-growing literature, has been recounted by us in several other places, including Brookfield and Byron (1990), Brookfield, Samad Hadi, and Zaharah Mahmud (1991), Potter (1993b), and Potter, Brookfield, and Byron (in press), and in a number of more specific papers by Potter. Comprehensive recent accounts going beyond our own, principally with reference to Malaysia, include Berger (1990), Hurst (1990), and Aiken (1992). Other sources are used in chapters 4, 5, 6, and 7. We therefore offer only a brief and unreferenced review of the background in this chapter.

9. The history of the one-man chain-saw, one of the major modern innovations of environ mental transformation and destruction, and its adoption by the world's farmers and loggers, remains to be written.

10. There is a partial exception in Sabah, where lands of the former British North Borneo Company were transferred on long title to the well-funded Sabah Foundation, the Yayasan Sabah. The Uniform System was also used in Sabah.

11. One of us once wrote, for the benefit of the World Bank, which deleted it from the report: "So planners, on Malaysian maps, with central places fill their gaps; and underneath tall jungle crowns, plant growth poles in the place of towns." The central towns in the Jengka Triangle and Pahang Tenggara might be better than this, but not by much.

The issues

A logical approach

The review of the accelerating pace of transformation in part I has confirmed that the most geographically extensive consequences of change in the past 40 years have been the conversion of forest to agriculture and forest degradation for timber extraction. In this part of the book, where we turn to the examination of seeming "endangerment" leading toward "criticality," we begin with the consequences of deforestation and degradation for the natural environment of the region, and with the effects of such environmental change on present and future life-support capacity. We defer until chapter 7 the effects on the atmosphere, which - if established as major - have consequences of a truly critical nature far beyond the region.

Direct environmental change has two elements: the effect on the forest and its biodiversity, and the effect on soils and hydrology. Lifesupport consequences need to be considered in the context of three groups of people: the indigenous forest-dwellers themselves, the agricultural and other settlers who occupy former forest land, and the wider regional and national economies, especially those parts dependent on the forest industry. In none of these three cases can the direct consequences of forest transformation be isolated from other factors in change. Paradoxically perhaps, the most complex issues are those that concern the forest-dwellers themselves. These are therefore considered separately in chapter 6, after the larger context is set out in chapter 5. The present chapter, however, considers the issue of biodiversity loss, on which questions of true criticality are often raised in the literature.

We begin with an overview of the present situation, drawing on a wide range of data. This will set the scene both for the rest of this chapter and for those that follow.

The scale of the transformation

In figure 4.1 we present some of the best available general information on the state of the forests in the 1980s, since when there has been substantial further change. A principal source, which uses all this available best information, is Collins, Sayer, and Whitmore (1991). Other sources show the earlier extent of forest, reliably for the Peninsula but very unreliably for Borneo.

Consequences for the forest and its environment

Loss of forest and biodiversity

Concerning those large areas of forest that have been totally cleared and converted to other uses or that lie waste, we can state only that there is nothing to be gained simply by bemoaning the past. A great resource has been squandered, and a major part of the habitat of a great range of plant and animal species has been destroyed. Moreover, this has been done with far less than adequate economic return to the two nations concerned (Gillis, 1988a, 1988b). The loss is enormous, more complete in the Peninsula and in Sabah, but the principal issues now concern what is created in place of the old-growth forest, and the future capacity of the forest industries to support people. Anticipating discussion below, however, it is useful to note that some of the cleared land is not likely to be converted to agricultural use in the near future, that some of it will be converted to low-diversity planted forest, and that some land previously converted will probably not remain in agriculture. Quite large areas of hill land in the Peninsula have, in fact, already reverted to secondary forest, with or without planted but unused rubber.

The proportion of the region's biodiversity that has already been lost can only be conjectured. It can already be said that in the Peninsula very little lowland mixed dipterocarp forest now remains wholly unlogged outside the conservation areas (Collins, Sayer, and Whitmore,1991: 188); considerable areas of Borneo are already in the same condition. Total removal of forest for conversion to agriculture certainly involves an enormous reduction of biodiversity and the loss of endemic species that were specific to the sites cleared. Species that have low density of distribution suffer huge erosion when large tracts of forest are removed (Cook, Janetas, and Hinds, 1990). Total clearance over large areas has been characteristic of the eastern Peninsula and a few parts of Borneo in the 1970s and 1980s, but it does not prevail on the scale reported from tropical America. In logged forest under selective systems a significant proportion is damaged, but much remains. While it is true that some surviving specimens may be the "living dead," alive but no longer reproducing (Jantzen, 1973), this is probably true of only a minority. In the degraded forest the extent of logging damage varies widely. Moreover, whereas many mammals and birds are seriously disturbed by logging, others survive quite well (Whitmore, 1984: 273-275). Wherever forest has been converted to Imperata-dominated grassland, however, little animal or bird life remains.

Fig. 4.1 The forests of Borneo (Source: derived from Collins, Sayer, and Whitmore, 1991). Note: The forest resources of the Peninsula have not been induded. For detail on this area refer to Brookfield (1994b)

A poverty of hard data

There is very little basis in firm research for the spectacular figures of species loss rates that appear not infrequently in sections of the conservationist literature, and that readily attract media attention. While it is surely true that the forests of Borneo and the Peninsula, like those of other regions, are suffering "accelerating and irreversible loss of biodiversity" (Goodland, Asibey, and Post, 1990), there are insufficient data to quantify this process. It is known that Borneo, even more than the Peninsula, contains an immensely varied and diverse array of plant, animal, and insect species with very high rates of endemism - 32 per cent of terrestrial mammals, 70 per cent of leaf beetles, 50 per cent of flowering plants (Groves, 1992; Said, Salleh, and Nor Hassan, 1992). It represents the centre of diversity for durians, dipterocarps, pitcher plants (Nepenthes), and many others (Sastrapradji, Rifai, and Kartawinata, 1992).

Collections of Bornean plants have been made since the 1820s, and are scattered throughout 54 herbaria in Asia, Europe, and the United States. It is not known in detail which regions are less well represented, though there is a concentration of material on significant sites, such as Mt Kinabalu. In general, knowledge is more complete for Sabah, Sarawak, and East Kalimantan, and for the Peninsula, than for other parts of Borneo. Neither is it known how exhaustive or accurate those collections were, in order to establish a baseline against which species loss may be measured (Mat-Salleh, Beach, and Beaman, 1992).

On the faunal side, while there is knowledge of distributions of the larger mammals and birds, other groups such as insects have been inadequately sampled, especially from Kalimantan. The Committee of Research Priorities in Tropical Biology, in a report to the US National Academy of Sciences in 1980, listed Borneo as one of two critical areas (together with Sulawesi) more in need of biological inventory than any other part of tropical Asia (Mat-Salleh, Beach, and Beaman, 1992). Almost all the scientists presenting papers at a 1990 conference on "Forest Biology and Conservation in Borneo" held in Sabah expressed concern that time was running out, because logging was invading so many localities in which no basic work had been done (Ghazally Ismail, Murtedza Mohamed, and Siraj Omar, 1992). It is only recently that a few permanent research stations have been set up to facilitate longer-term ecological and other studies. Most of these are close to the coast so that interior and mountainous areas are not covered. Specific projects, located in the geographical centre of the island in the hill forests of Central Kalimantan and along the mountainous border region between East Kalimantan, Sarawak, and Sabah, have attempted to fill this void (Bodmer, Mather, and Chivers, 1991; Jessup, Soedjito, and Kartawinata, 1992). Direct impacts of logging on particular flora and fauna are just beginning to be examined.

A significant number of biotic and faunal species may be endangered owing to loss of habitat, but this can really be established only in the case of the larger mammals. The tiger and the elephant are now reduced to very small numbers in the Peninsula, where estimated losses of seven primate species between 1957 and 1975 range from 23 to 57 per cent (Mohd Khan bin Momin Khan, 1988). However, this is based only on estimates of former density applied to the known loss of forest areas; it does not allow for the possible migration of the wildlife concerned. The Sumatran rhinoceros was locally common in eastern Sabah during the early years of the twentieth century (Payne, 1992). It may be close to extinction in the more heavily affected parts of eastern Borneo (Wirawan, 1993), though there were sightings in 1977 along the northern edge of the Kutai Nature Reserve (Cockburn and Sumardja, 1978). Small numbers - perhaps a score - remain in the Tabin Wildlife Reserve, north of Lahad Datu, Sabah, together with 100200 elephants and 50 banteng (WWF, 1987), and there are rhinoceros and elephants, together with all of Borneo's other large land mammals, in the Danum Valley Conservation Area in the same district (Marsh and Greer, 1992). It is believed that for several species, including the rhinoceros, eastern Sabah and adjacent parts of East Kalimantan hold the largest or only remaining populations in Borneo. A few rhinoceros may still be found in the Peninsula (in Endau-Rompin National Park). The Tabin Reserve has almost all been selectively logged since 1970 and the Sabah Foundation retains logging rights to a substantial portion. The World Wildlife Fund (WWF, 1987) suggests, however, that eventually Tabin could become a model for combining species conservation with sustained-yield harvesting of tropical forest. It writes (p. 11) that "one of the reasons for the survival of these animal populations is the low density of human population in the immediate area and the reserve's relative inaccessibility." Nevertheless, some poaching does occur and the institution of proper management is recommended.

The case of the Gunung Palung National Park, West Kalimantan

Potter worked as a consultant on a survey of the Gunung Palung National Park in the south-western part of West Kalimantan in 1992. Like Tabin in Sabah, the region has a relatively sparse human population, but has a selection of all major forest habitats, from peat and swamp to upland, giving sustenance to an extraordinary wealth of animal species. These include most of the large ungulates, though the last confirmed rhinoceros sighting was in 1939 (MacKinnon and Warsito, 1982). Many wild orangutan are present, ranging through various habitats, and there is an impressive population of proboscis monkeys (Nasalis larvatus), which gather in large nocturnal groups along the swampy river banks. Other monkey species, such as macaques and leafeaters, are common, and the call of gibbons (Hylobates agilis) can be heard in the mornings. One of the reasons for the continued faunal abundance is the fact that the surrounding population is Melayu (Malay), not Dayak. These Muslims do not hunt any animals except deer. Dayaks are to be found at a distance and will harvest animals that are using outside forest corridors to move to or from the park. MacKinnon (1992) has generalized from the Gunung Palung situation to suggest that all remaining large populations of orangutan in Kalimantan tend to be located in Malay areas, a position challenged by others who argue that particular habitat characteristics are equally important (Payne, 1992; Mather, 1992).

Access to Gunung Palung used to be difficult; although it still takes some considerable effort to reach the research station in the heart of the park, road improvements together with faster boats along the coast are reducing the isolation of the park edges. They can now be easily reached from the district centre of Ketapang. Open boundaries along the larger rivers make entry simple and surveillance difficult. Although to date this has not had a severe effect on animal populations (with the possible exception of the monitor lizard, the skins of which are sold), some tree species such as gaharu (Aquilaria malaccensis and other spp.), ramin (Gonystylus bancanus), and medang (Litsea amara) are being selectively felled on a wide scale for sale to illegal collectors. Ramin is a valuable swamp timber; the bark of the medang tree is stripped, a process that kills the tree, then it is used to make mosquito coils; the fragrant gaharu wood is extracted from the diseased heart of Aquilaria trees, which also results in tree destruction. Although such activities have not yet resulted in elimination of these species from the area, there are obvious impacts on forest structure (Potter, 1992).

Deforestation and crop gene-pools

From the Malesian region have been derived a significant number of the world's crop plants, fruits, and some medicinal plants. Sugar cane and bananas are perhaps the most important of these, together with rice on the margins of the region. There is an enormous range of wild fruit trees, and Whitmore (1984: 265) lists 29 cultivated in, or gathered from, a small area of forest in the eastern Peninsula. Those most useful have long since been domesticated and form part of the dusun, or orchards, found in and around villages all over South-East Asia. However, a high proportion of their wild relatives remain in the forest, used by the small populations of hunter-gatherers, by shifting cultivators who consciously preserve many of them in clearing their swiddens and in the fallow vegetation, and by villagers practicing agro-forestry. Chin (1985: 211-227) details 89 basic plant types and some 200 sub-types, corresponding to at least 95 botanical species as actually planted by the Lepo Ga' Kenyah of Long Selatong on the upper Baram in Sarawak; 74 of these provide food. His total botanical inventory of this area consists of more than 600 collection numbers (p. 9).

Considering the concern being expressed about shrinking crop gene-pools in other heavily affected tropical forest regions (e.g. Smith and Schultes, 1990), this aspect has received rather little attention from the scientific community or government agencies. The situation has now changed, and efforts are being made in the collection, documentation, and preservation of wild species. Work is under way in Sabah on the wild varieties of rice found growing in the forest or in disturbed environments, because it has come to be realized that they have high potential as sources of genes for resistance or tolerance to a number of pests and diseases. The variety Oryza officinalis, for example, which is widespread in Sabah, is resistant to the brown planthopper (Benong, 1992). Research in the upper Bahau River area of East Kalimantan, within the huge Kayan Mentarang Nature Reserve, has discovered 42 varieties of rice being grown in two villages; 24 are upland dry rice and 18 wet rice (Dolvina Damus, 1992). An important part of the scientific studies now being undertaken in this reserve concerns the conservation of traditional crop varieties, which, it is argued, may best be done by maintaining them within their entire agroecosystems (Jessup, Soedjito, and Kartawinata, 1992). Bompard and Kostermans (1992: 69) agree with this approach, noting that the multi-purpose tree gardens in parts of West and East Kalimantan "are sanctuaries of crop germplasm of amazing diversity."' They also make a plea for recognition of the active role of peasants in the conservation of genetic resources.

The Department of Agriculture in Sabah has collected species of wild fruits for planting out in germplasm arboreta as living collections ("ex-situ conservation"), which is another approach. Areas especially rich in wild fruits are also being placed in special Virgin Jungle Reserves in collaboration with the Forestry Department (Wong and Lamb, 1992). The National Committee on Plant Genetic Resources of Malaysia is working towards the conservation of wild fruit, spice, and nut trees so that the value of these resources is now being recognized.

Borneo is in the heart of the distribution area of the genus Mangifera. A total of 21 indigenous species have been recorded as part of a project sponsored by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN)/WWF in cooperation with the International Board for Plant Genetic Resources (IBPGR) and carried out in Kalimantan from 1986 to 1988 with the cooperation of the Indonesian Institute of Sciences and the Indonesian National Committee for Plant Genetic Resources. The list is not exhaustive because many areas have not yet been investigated. The authors of the study believe that wild mangoes have considerable potential in improvement and breeding programmes, but they note a high degree of genetic erosion as traditional lifestyles are changing and the knowledge that accompanied them is lost.

Local people can recognize and name the many wild mangoes, and they have specific uses for each of them. But the cultural background and natural environment of Javanese people resettled in Kalimantan is quite different. They indiscriminately use the Javanese word "Pakel", which applies to M.foetida, when referring to many wild species for which they have no specific use. (Bompard and Kostermans, 1992: 68)

One might generalize that the progressive displacement of huntergatherers and shifting cultivators from forest areas to make way for settlers from non-forest environments has eroded the bank of knowledge about these forest products, especially those that are rare and specific to particular localities.

Research is also proceeding on medicinal plants in parts of East and Central Kalimantan and among the Murut population of Sabah (Ahmad and Raji, 1992; Leaman, Yusuf, and Arnason, 1992; Riswan et al., 1992; Siti Susiarti, 1992). Such products are still in common use among many groups, especially those living in less accessible regions. Traditional Chinese medicine, even in sophisticated urban areas, continues to employ these plants. In Malaysia, 30-40 species of ginger have been used to cure a range of ailments from rheumatism to indigestion. Research into their medicinal properties has shown several to be positive for anti-microbial use and they are being actively investigated for anti-cancer application in the United States. The Indo-Malayan region is reportedly the centre of diversity for Zingiberaceae, with at least 20 genera and 160 species in Borneo, and 23 genera and 200 species earlier recorded for the Peninsula. There could be more but, like so many other under-exploited, non-timber species, they are disappearing with the vanishing forest before being recorded (Ibrahim, 1992).

The heavy loss of lowland and hill dipterocarp forest has greatly reduced an entire environment, so that a disproportionate share of the wild resources remaining are those of the high mountain areas. The scale of this loss is unknown, and it raises an important issue for the conservation of surviving forests. Not only should the size and nature of areas be matters of priority in conservation, but so should their management, with or without occupiers. To this we now turn in concluding this brief discussion.

Conclusion: Conservation areas

The state of conservation areas in the region

A great deal depends on the success with which the conservation forests and wildlife sanctuaries, either declared or proposed, are sus tained. Those already declared constitute an area equal to 7.7 per cent of the estimated remaining forest area in the region as a whole; those proposed add a further 9.6 per cent. However, some conservation areas include significant non-forest tracts (from tabulated data in Collins, Sayer, and Whitmore, 1991: 146, 162, 185, 188, 203, 208). There are also designated watershed areas, the protection status of which is uncertain. In the montane regions, where some large existing or proposed conservation areas occur in both East Malaysia and Kalimantan, development pressure is generally light, though parts of the Kinabalu National Park in Sabah have been excised for agriculture, recreation, and mining, and others have been invaded by farmers. One large upland area, Kayan Mentarang in Kalimantan, already has a farming population of around 10,000. The aim is to develop this area as a biosphere reserve, which may include humanmodified ecosystems in addition to undisturbed natural areas. Its boundaries have already been extended to include tracts of lowland dipterocarp forest as well as the upland systems. As the largest protected block of rain forest in South-East Asia (1.6 million ha), it is vitally important as a refuge for rare and endemic species (Jessup, Soedjito, and Kartawinata, 1992). Conservation fieldwork has just begun in this region; it has a longer history in other near-coastal and coastal reserves recognized early for their large tracts of lowland dipterocarp forest.

Two of the largest lowland conservation areas, Taman Negara (National Park) in the Peninsula and Kutai National Park in East Kalimantan, were first designated in the colonial period, as was Gunung Palung in West Kalimantan. Taman Negara was designated in 1935, and its integrity was confirmed in the 1970s after a decision was taken not to proceed with a major dam that would have invaded its boundaries (Collins, Sayer, and Whitmore, 1991: 188; Government of Malaysia, 1976). With an area of over 430,000 ha, Taman Negara protects montane as well as lowland forest. There continues, however, to be some doubt about the security of the lowland area; planned tourist road development might renew pressure from logging, illegal if not legal. In the case of Kutai, a reserve of 2 million ha was proposed for wildlife preservation in 1932 (Wirawan, 1993), corresponding with the distributional limits of concentrations of orangutan and the Sumatran rhinoceros, with a full range of Malesian plant life, and with many other animal and bird species. The area actually approved in 1936 by the Sultan of Kutai and the Dutch government was, however, only 306,000 ha, and the park was further reduced in

1971 to 200,000 ha after a significant part of it had already been logged. Numerous studies have been conducted in this reserve (summarized by Wirawan, 1985), and they show that all the large mammals intended to be protected in the 1930s, except the Sumatran rhinoceros, were still present, together with a great richness of bird species and smaller ungulates, carnivores, and primates.

Kutai was partly burned in the 1982/83 fires (chap. 8), but about half remained undamaged. The fire killed 52 per cent of the fruit trees belonging to the Meliaceae and Myrtaceae, and many members of the 50 species of Lauraceae trees were lost (Wirawan, 1993), with serious consequences for the birds and animals dependent on these food sources. However, significant biological resources still remain. Provided these and other large areas can be conserved and protected from illegal logging and other invasion, a genetic pool of biodiversity in the lowland forests might yet survive. For most of the lowlands, however, there is no hope of restoring the full diversity of biota and fauna that existed not long ago.2

A question of management

All over the world, it is increasingly recognized that conservation areas from which people are excluded tend quickly to be poached, and can be sustained only by a heavy and costly programme of management and policing. On the other hand, conservation areas in which small numbers of people live, farm, hunt, and forage are usually more successful; they are managed by the people themselves. This relatively new philosophy of biodiversity conservation has yet to win general acceptance, but it is being tried in Indonesia, where it receives at least lip-service from the Forestry Department.

The Natural Resources Management Project, a joint venture of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Government of Indonesia, is attempting to institute this kind of management in the Bukit Baka/Bukit Raya National Park straddling the border of West and Central Kalimantan. This is a typical upland park in the Schwaner mountains. The location is remote, the surrounding Dayak population is not large, and threats to its integrity come mainly from logging companies. Little is known in detail about the flora and fauna apart from a short survey of Bukit Raya by a Dutch biologist in 1982/83 (Nooteboom, 1987). A team from the Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI) has plans to make a more comprehensive survey. A management plan has been drawn up for the park, incorporating some aspects of local involvement (Potess, 1992). If it is successful, a similar system will be tried in the more difficult environment of Gunung Palung, which is being subjected to many more outside stresses than is Bukit Baka/Raya, despite the absence of hunting pressures on the wildlife (Potter, 1992). It seems clear, however, that a devolution of responsibility for park management to local interests is the only way to ensure some kind of protection of these immensely valuable resources, while allowing local people controlled extraction rights in limited areas. As pointed out, such an approach is still experimental and there are many aspects to be worked through in detail.

Meanwhile, on the part of those in government in all the territories concerned, there is a new awareness of the importance of conserving portions of the remaining forests before it is too late. It is an awareness shared by the scientific community, both national and international, who are fearful that, if no workable formula is found for their administration, the parks and reserves will be seen as jewels for the plundering by an unscrupulous minority, and the last chance for conserving the amazing biodiversity of Malesia will be irrevocably lost.


1. These multi-purpose tree gardens, or "complex agroforests," are further discussed in chapter 6.
2. One very recent example is a wildlife reserve of 35,000 ha in South Kalimantan (Pleihari-Tanah Laut), which has recently been reclassified because animal populations are stated to have dropped so much that it is not worth retaining. The swamp forest was said to have been invaded by shifting cultivators, cattle grazers, and shrimp fishermen. Parts are scheduled to be planted up in fast-growing exotic tree species (Kompas, 30 April 1992; 8 May 1992; 7 July 1992).


Whereas biodiversity is a major issue on the international plane and so, in a different way, is the effect of forest loss on the forest people, there are other issues that are of greater significance to most people living within the region. These are the effects of rapid forest transformation on the land and the rivers, and the viability of the new economies that have come into being dependent on, and in place of, the forest. These more regional questions form the topic of this chapter.

Forest clearance and erosion

The effect of clearance on hydrology and soil

It is a general finding that forests offer the best protection that the land can have from erosion. The burden of almost all research into erosion and hydrology in recent years confirms that, although it is wrong to assume that no erosion takes place under forest, there is a jump of major order once the forest is cleared. In undisturbed forest, raindrop impact is greatly reduced by the canopy, and infiltration through the litter into the weathered regolith is high. Not more than about 5 per cent of water reaching the forest floor becomes overland flow, and most runoff at base flow reaches the streams through the shallow water table (Douglas et al., 1992b: 404). It is for this reason that slope failure is the most common form of erosion in hills under closed fores.¹Even so, with storm rainfall registering 30-minute intensities up to 100 mm/hour, the amount of debris and sediment carried into and down the streams is large. Debris dams in small streams may be formed, moved, or destroyed several times a year, leading to substantial bank erosion (Spencer et al., 1990). Studies of catchments in undisturbed and secondary forests show annual sediment yields between 35 and 312 t/km2/y (Douglas et al., 1992b: 403). These values increase dramatically after clearance or logging.

Forestry and forest clearance by pre-mechanical means, under which large areas in the Peninsula and elsewhere were transformed before the second half of the present century, certainly wrought substantial damage. This is especially so since many areas cleared in the early years were too large to regenerate to forest and were too frequently and heavily worked for cash crops; they became Imperatadominated grassland (Jackson, 1968a). When much of this land was later planted under rubber, clean weeding left the ground bare, with results as discussed in chapter 2. In those upland areas where some timber was selectively extracted, the hauling out of even a small number of logs already entailed soil compaction, the destruction of saplings, and the creation of channels for overland flow.

Tractors, not seriously introduced before the 1960s, were soon followed by much heavier machinery, for the use of which gravelled roads and collection yards were constructed. Crawler tractors then made it possible to extract timber from slopes up to 20° and, with high-lead winching, timber could be obtained from slopes up to as much as 45°. Most timber has, however, continued to be skidded out to roads for transport. Large-scale land clearance and road construction employ bulldozers. The consequences of the use of heavy machinery and skidding logs include soil compaction, loss of topsoil, destruction of soil structure, major reduction of percolation, and exposure to erosion. Roads additionally impede drainage and become pathways for overland flow in which gullies form once constant maintenance has ceased. Following total clearance, it has only latterly become the practice to pile debris along the contour. These effects have been described by many writers (e.g. Burgess, 1971, 1973; Abdulhadi, Kartawinata, and Sukardjo, 1981; Mohd Nor Zakaria et al., 1985).

Criticisms of logging activities within the forest have also emphasized the impact on surrounding trees of mechanized selective cutting, with an average of 50 per cent of the stand being destroyed or damaged although only 30 per cent may be removed (Hamzah, 1978;

Kartawinata, 1978). The compaction of soils impedes regeneration of dipterocarps and favours nomad species, reducing the recovery of desirable timber types for later extraction (Kartawinata, 1990; Whitmore, 1991). Thang (1990) has argued for Malaysia that a second cut in as little as 35 years will be possible only if residual damage is not greater than 30 per cent. One study in a district of East Kalimantan has noted that the proportional areas of "primary" and "secondary" forest have shifted dramatically toward the latter (Sukardjo, 1990).

The construction of roads, the exposure of bare ground, and compaction of the soil all have major consequences for erodibility. In a comparative study of unlogged and logged catchments in Sabah, Douglas et al. (1992a, 1992b) show how a first major increase in suspended sediment discharge followed the construction of a road in the logged catchment. Activity close to the road then led to a dramatic rise, while subsequent extraction on the remainder of the catchment caused an 18-fold excess in sedimentation above levels recorded in the unlogged area a short distance away. A build-up of fine material in the stream-bed suggested, moreover, that "in some storms, more sediment was available for transport than stream energy to carry it" (Douglas, 1992b: 401). Coincidentally, the same 18-fold increase in soil loss after logging was measured using simpler means by Kellman (1969) in Mindanao, the Philippines. Zulkifli, Anhar, and Bahruddin (1990) report a 20-fold increase in a catchment on the Peninsula, and a 60-fold increase over baseline levels, in terms of suspended solids alone, downstream of a deforested area in Sabah. In general, the suspended solids yields of Sabah rivers below timber-working areas are an order of magnitude larger than on Peninsular rivers, yielding calculated erosion rates comparable with that of the notorious Citarum River in west Java (Murtedza Mohamed and Ti Teow Chuan, 1991).

As Macaranga and other fast-growing species colonized the loggedover land in the Sabah catchment, sediment yield fell in a year to 3.6 times the level in the unlogged catchment. However, two years after logging, "the system appeared to be well short of recovery" (Douglas et al., 1992b: 405). Reasons include the effect of soil compaction in greatly increasing overland flow, the presence of ephemeral channels created during logging, and the large quantity of sediment lodged in and along the stream-bed between storms, ready to be moved by the next storm with substantial bank erosion. Because of this enhanced capacity to produce sediment load, which is easily moved in lighter rainfalls, the contribution of the biggest rain events to total annual transport is less than in the unlogged catchment, where 14 days of heavy rain carried 65 per cent of all that was moved during a sevenmonth period in 1988 (Douglas et al., 1992b).

Research does not yet indicate the recovery time of the soil and hydrological system in disturbed forests, but clearly the creation of new channels and heavy soil compaction are enduring changes. Soil compaction under heavy machinery differentiates change in the modern period from what went before; it may therefore be that partial stabilization in areas cleared before the 1960s is not a wholly useful analogy. Nor are there many hard data on the downstream movement of sediment from the converted and logging areas. Many rivers, especially in Borneo, now flow opaquely turbid at all times, reportedly much more so than in former years, indicating fairly rapid transmission of the finer clay and silt fractions. The coarser material, however, is significantly moved only in flood, raises river beds, and forms shoals and bars where channels have been widened; boatnavigation difficulties are reported on some rivers in periods of low flow (Aten Suwandi, n.d.). It is unknown how far the intensive dredging required for ship access at the tidal outlets of some large rivers is due to sedimentation from the land or from the sea. However, data from Sabah indicate serious water supply problems owing to blocking of intakes, and also obstruction of barge traffic in one estuary (Murtedza Mohamed, 1990).

The raising of river-beds, coupled with more rapid runoff after heavy rain, is, however, more than likely to be responsible for the scale of flooding experienced along the lower courses of many rivers in recent years. In formerly forested areas now under rubber and other agriculture, the proportion of annual rainfall becoming runoff is increased from 40-50 to above 60 per cent (Aiken et al., 1982: 188).2 It is significant that, in the western Peninsula, the floods of 1971 were higher than the great "red flood" of 1926 (Winstedt, 1927), although, on the basis of data sets that are not strictly comparable, there may have been less rainfall. However, while there are numerous accounts of flooding assertively attributed to land clearance or forest degradation in the region (e.g. Collins, Sayer, and Whitmore, 1991: 153), it has to be recalled that the proximate cause is always the intensity and duration of heavy rain. Except perhaps in urban areas, data are seldom sufficient to assign, with total certainty, more than a necessary underlying role to human interference.

We can, however, be more certain about the downstream consequences of greater unevenness in hydrological regimes. This irregu rarity leads to a higher incidence of flash floods after heavy rainstorms (Jamaluddin, 1988). There is also loss of soil moisture in valley soils, and of water at irrigation intakes, during even short periods of drought. Enquiries among farmers in valleys below areas recently cleared or logged in the western Peninsula suggested that irregularity of hydrological regime is an important reason for widespread recent abandonment of wet-rice cultivation (Brookfield, Samad Hadi, and Zaharah Mahmud, 1991: 57). It has been stated by the Ministry of Agriculture that, in the Peninsula as a whole, a large part of the 91,203 ha of irrigated rice land lying idle is in this condition owing to lack of water (New Straits Times, 4 January 1991); farmers are being encouraged to shift to dry crops.

Life support and deforestation

The new agricultural populations

A major justification for deforestation lies in the settlement of large numbers of new farmers on land that was formerly forest. As reviewed in chapter 3, this has taken different forms in Malaysia and in Indonesia. Malaysian settlement has been dominated by officially sponsored resettlement on quite large cash-crop blocks within an agro-industrial system. In Indonesia, both officially sponsored and spontaneous settlers have, until very recently, been involved primarily in production for their own subsistence. Comparative data are hard to establish, and even in Malaysia data have become more vague in recent years as the resettlement drive has run into difficulties.

Problems in Kalimantan

After nearly 400,000 officially sponsored transmigrants went to Kalimantan between 1980 and 1985 (World Bank, 1988), numbers of new arrivals have been lower, though they are now slowly rising again (Statistik Indonesia, 1992). Spontaneous migrants (mainly from Sulawesi) have gone in large numbers to East Kalimantan, while the other provinces have received significant inflows from Madura. The highest concentration of official schemes has been in South and West Kalimantan, where many have been in tidal swamp areas, which we discuss separately below. Although land selection has been aided in recent years by the research of the Regional Physical Planning Pro gramme for Transmigration (RePPProT, 1985, 1987a, 1987b), most nowoccupied sites were set up earlier, and a number of these are on poor soils and in remote locations (Hardjono, 1977: 67-78; 1986). Whatever the quality of land made available, each settler family was allocated 2 ha, one near the house to function in part as the house yard, the other further away, intended for permanent tree crops or extension of the food-crop area. Often this second hectare has remained uncleared because of household labour shortages.

Not all of the land was originally under dipterocarp forest or even tidal swamp; grassland locations were common. Wet-rice growing has been practiced where possible, as this is the type of agriculture most familiar to settlers who come overwhelmingly from Java, but this has been possible only on a minority of sites. In the uplands, dry-rice yields usually decline after a couple of years. Studies of individual transmigrant settlements (e.g. ORSTOM, 1984) have concluded that incomes are too low for migrants to live from their farms alone. In accessible districts most farmers, both local and transmigrant, are involved in off-farm work (Arman, 1987). In remote areas many settlers often end up practicing shifting cultivation, ironically under the tutelage of the very locals whose farming system they were supposed, by example, to improve (Hidayati, 1991, 1994). Some settlers, anticipating irrigation infrastructure, have had to use dry-farming methods for as much as 14 years before this was provided (Hidayati, 1991).

Transmigrants who arrived in Kalimantan in the early 1980s faced additional problems of severe drought, leading to crop failure. The two very dry years 1982-1983 were followed by further droughts in 1987 and 19911993. Even without these extra difficulties, transmigrant smallholder foodcrop agriculture, as practiced on the soils of Kalimantan, is likely to lead at best to poverty, probably also to erosion or other environmental problems, and in some cases to eventual abandonment. A list of the 37 least successful transmigration projects as of April 1983 (IIED/GOI, 1985, Annex D) included 10 from Kalimantan, and Hardjono's (1977) dismal conclusions concerning all but a few of the Kalimantan projects then active are not greatly in need of modification. The settlements seemingly doomed to failure include several unwisely located on kerangas soils, such as those described in chapter 1.

Almost all of the recommendations for new transmigrant sites in the RePPProT reports are prefaced by warnings that tree-crop projects only are suitable. In recent years there has finally been a shift away from food-crop schemes toward the tree-crop alternative. Sev eral PIR (Perkebunan Inti Rakyat) smallholder cash-crop schemes have been established around a central processing facility or existing government estate. Settlers are given 2 ha of tree-crop and 0.5-1 ha of food-crop land for subsistence, and earn money both as labourers on the estate and by working their own holdings. Although rubber projects have been most common in Kalimantan, coconut, oil-palm, and cocoa, even sugar cane, have also been introduced, and there are plans for rattan. Many of the newer schemes are quite large. One very large palm oil project in West Kalimantan had the physical appearance, in its early stages in 1991 and 1992, of the huge Pahang Tenggara settlement areas in the eastern Peninsula at a similar stage a few years earlier. In all these projects, the possibility of much better income levels than in the food-crop schemes, as well as greater environmental protection, have been noted (World Bank, 1989). It must be remembered, however, that prices received for these products are notoriously variable on the world market. Such developments are also much more expensive than food-crop projects.

Especially in East Kalimantan, however, many settlers arrive independently. The most famous of these are the oft-described Bugis pepper growers from Sulawesi, who are settled along the Balikpapan-Samarinda road in East Kalimantan. Vayda and Sahur (1985), who studied some of these farmers in both Sulawesi and Kalimantan in 1980 and 1984, maintained that this production, which began in 1961, is essentially transitory, as are the growers. They claimed that pepper production without fertilizer on these so-described Ultisols was unlikely to last more than 10 years before declining yields necessitated abandonment. However, the generic view of "Ultisols" may need to be modified, as we proposed in chapter 1. Inoue and Lahjie (1990) suggest that the cycle may be 15 years, and there is some hint that fertilizer may now be applied. Potter has seen serious erosion in the sloping, clean-weeded fields, but there was little obvious sign of retreat by the settlers up to 1992, although there are abandoned fields interspersed among the healthy crops.

A good deal of criticism has also focused on the impact of spontaneous migrants who follow the timber contractors and settle along the logging roads, destroying forest as they go. We believe this to be exaggerated, as often these roads, where they survive, are quite empty of settlers. Local villagers may move from locations nearby to take advantage of the transportation possibilities provided by the road, but these are not "new" settlers. Nevertheless, where there is a tradition of spontaneous migration, as in East Kalimantan, incoming settlers move into logged-over forests in the most accessible districts, because they are easier to clear, especially if illegal loggers have also been active. Hidayati (1991) quotes from Franz (1988) figures of 400 km²of forest being cleared by 25,000 spontaneous migrants in East Kalimantan. One may also presume that most spontaneous settlers pick their land more carefully than do officials selecting sites for others.

Problems in the Peninsula and Sabah

Although some land developments in the Peninsula and Sabah, and all the little that has been undertaken in Sarawak, have been conducted by underfunded state agencies, the greater part has been heavily capitalized and managed by FELDA (Bahrin and Perera, 1977). Between 1971 and 1990 a total of over 15,025 km²_ a small part in Sabah - had been developed by this and other agencies, or with the active participation of FELDA (Government of Malaysia, 1981, 1986, 1991a). This was equal to 55 per cent of the total Peninsular agricultural area in 1966 and 30 per cent of the 1982 area, by the land-use surveys of these two dates. Over 300 occupied FELDA settlements, covering some 6,000 km2, had an estimated population of 680,000 in 1989.

Although their production and marketing were tightly controlled, these people had become substantial farmers, with areas of from 4 to 6.5 ha under oil-palm, rubber, cocoa, and some other crops. All preparatory work, including the establishment of tree crops, was completed for them under contract before arrival. Problems of soil loss, and difficulties caused by soil compaction under heavy machinery during site preparation (Mohd Nor Zakaria et al., 1985), were managed with assistance from the scheme staff, and fairly substantial inputs of chemical fertilizer became general during the 1980s. Since soil selection had basically been quite good, nothing resembling the problems faced by many Indonesian transmigrants arose. Possibly, as Goodland, Asibey, and Post (1990: 311) suggest in a more general context, "it may merely be that unsustainability takes longer to become noticeable in treebased than other farming." Be this as it may, settlers of 20 years' standing on the Peninsula widely expressed satisfaction, even though they had heavy debts to repay (World Bank, 1987). By 1985 FELDA seemed in sight of its target of developing 8,000 km²and settling 1 million people by 1990 (Land Development Digest, 1985).

Yet, as the 1980s wore on, the whole land settlement drive was clearly confronting growing difficulties. There were several reasons. The first generation of settlers was ageing, and many of their older children had migrated to urban employment (Sutton, 1989). Twothirds of the settler population were children of the original settlers and, of those who had completed schooling, a rising proportion were either unemployed or had left the land (Addnan, 1989). Yet, at this same time, many of the earlier FELDA schemes had become due for replanting.

During the 1980s the land development schemes ceased to be a single group. Beginning in 1977, some settlers on older schemes were given full title to their blocks, the role of FELDA changing to provision of management and services. A share system was initiated, with the backing of FELDA, under which settlers received wages and dividends from the profits of the settlement scheme (Jamaludin, 1988). However, the authoritarian system of FELDA offered little scope for initiative and, among the better-educated younger blockholders, there was increasing reluctance to accept the tight FELDA discipline (World Bank, 1987). This was especially so in Sabah, where settlers were drawn from among the indigenous Sabahan people, who were inexperienced in the conformism imposed from youth on rural Malays (Sutton, 1989). Most settlers wanted to own their own land, and the government was responsive to this wish. In 1988 it was determined that individual ownership should become the general practice, in a bid to make land settlement more attractive in a time of declining recruitment (Shahril and Abdul Aziz, 1989; Sutton, 1989). In Malaysia as a whole from 1970 to 1990 there was, however, a significant shift of GDP and employment from agriculture and forestry into manufacturing, services, mining, and construction. Agriculture and forestry employed 53.5 per cent of the legally recognized workforce in 1970 and only 27.8 per cent in 1990 (Government of Malaysia, 1991b: 41).

In the mid-1980s the world prices of most of Malaysia's exports declined in unison. Depressed prices hit incomes severely; debts accumulated and settlers found it hard to repay their large loans. Moreover, the cost of land preparation, and hence of loans, has risen sharply as clearance has moved into hilly land and more remote areas. There has also been a general escalation of costs. According to two sources, the mean cost of establishing a family on FELDA land rose by 73 per cent between 1976 and 1985 (Drury, 1988), and by 41 per cent between 1980 and 1985 (Chamhuri and Nik Hashim,

1988). At the end of the 1980s the officially stated cost was $M40,500 (c. $US15,200) for oil-palm schemes and $M57,400 (c. $US21,500) for rubber schemes (Government of Malaysia, 1991a). The difference reflects the fact that rubber, rather than oil-palm, is the preferred crop on hilly land; yet incomes from rubber are far lower than those from oil-palm. Both, however, are high figures, well above the cost of establishing Indonesian transmigrants or of redeveloping village land in situ, which has become increasingly important as a development strategy in the Peninsula.

Crisis in Malaysian land settlement

By 1989 over 100 schemes were still without settlers, and by no means all of these were still in the stage of preparation. For the largest - the 1,000 km²Sahabat complex on the good basaltic soils of eastern Sabah - few settlers had been found by the end of the 1980s, and three whole groups of schemes were almost without settler families. In Sabah as a whole, production much smaller than that of the private sector was sustained only on a plantation-estate basis, using illegal immigrants from the Philippines and Indonesia as the principal source of labour. By 1986 foreign workers already formed 90 per cent of all labour in Sabah agriculture (Pang, 1990). In the Peninsula, dependence on immigrant labour has not increased to Sabah levels but, according to reports throughout the 1980s, most contract workers clearing land have been illegal migrants. It was also increasingly said that these inexpensive workers were being used to maintain production on operative FELDA schemes, while more and more blockholders' families worked in the cities.

In one way or another, shortage of labour now affects most parts of the rural economy in the Peninsula. In regard to the estates, the Minister of Primary Industries stated that, if immigrant labour were to be ''done away with, my whole estate sector will collapse" (Logging and Resources, 1990). By the late 1980s many FELDA schemes were already being operated as though they were estates, in view of the growing difficulty in attracting settlers to the raw environment of remote areas. In these circumstances, and under a new and more restrictive view of national involvement in productive enterprise that emerged after the mid-1980s depression, a significant cut-back in land development on the Peninsula was foreshadowed in 1989 (Government of Malaysia, 1989). Then, under the new five-year plan promulgated in 1991 (Government of Malaysia, 1991a), all new land de velopment by FELDA, anywhere in Malaysia, was to be terminated after completion of ongoing work. The main emphasis in future would be on in situ development in established rural areas.

On management in the FELDA schemes, the plan makes a revealing statement (Government of Malaysia, 1991a: 117):

While focus will be placed on the formation of plantation companies, FELDA will continue to manage its existing land schemes under the individual ownership system to ensure continued growth and production ... [U]nder the plantation companies, land scheme [sic] will be managed as an estate company with the beneficiaries contributing labour and owning equity in lieu of land ownership. This new management concept will be implemented in all FELDA schemes which have yet to recruit settlers ... The activities of plantation management under the equity ownership system will be implemented in 222 FELDA schemes, covering a total area of 300,000 hectares in the Peninsula.

Thus it was publicly revealed that up to 40 per cent of all FELDA land in the Peninsula was without clients and was to be allocated to owners rather than settlers. What has been created de facto is a major extension of the estate sector, mainly dependent on immigrant labour. Clearance of about 3,000 km²of forest, plus perhaps 1,000 km²in Sabah, will in effect have achieved a form of trans-border extension of Indonesia's transmigrant scheme, but with source areas in Sumatra and Sulawesi and also the southern Philippines, as well as Java. It remains to be seen how far these new measures to end a major period in the history of the Peninsular environment will succeed. For Sabah, the effect is greater. Although there is a plentiful supply of Indonesian and Filipino migrants to work the "estates," all hopes of developing large new agricultural areas by Sabahan land settlement seem to be at an end.

This immigration, which supports the construction industry and domestic service, as well as agriculture, is reportedly well organized at both sending and receiving ends, and unlikely to be ended easily. The popular Peninsular image of boatloads of immigrants spontaneously crossing the Melaka Strait by night is, so it is reported, by no means the whole story. According to newspaper reports, some detained illegals have, from time to time, been put into boats and towed out to sea; it is a simple matter for them to return after dark. Travelling by bus on the one road connection from Kalimantan to Sarawak, Brookfield observed in 1992 not only the hard time received by Indonesian travellers at the immigration and customs post on the border, but also a stringent police check a few kilometres down the road into

Malaysia. No illegals were found. Potter experienced the same system at work on the east coast of Sabah, with one unfortunate being found without papers in a minibus. He was promptly arrested. Most successful "settlers" will be only casual labourers, employed at significantly less than the wages received by Malaysian workers.

The special case of tidal swamp settlements

In Kalimantan, but not in Malaysia, a significant proportion of new land settlements occupy the very distinctive environment of tidal swamps, the characteristics of which were described in chapter 1. The method of reclamation in South and Central Kalimantan was initially developed by Banjarese settlers from the Hulu Sungai late in the nineteenth century, and it entails the use of fresh river water banked up by the tide and channelled into the fields; the channels then carry the acidic water out into the river at low tide, and by this means the development of acid-sulphate soils after clearance is inhibited. The sites chosen must be sufficiently far up river to avoid salt-water intrusion, but not so far up as to be subject to deep seasonal flooding. However, in lands distant from the main canals, water remains stagnant and acid; rice yields remain well below 2 t/ha and sometimes fall below 1 t/ha, whereas on better-drained lands yields reach from 2 to 3.5 t/ha. On most of these soils, traditionally adapted rices with a long period between initial seed-bed sowing and final reaping have persisted. Because of varying water depth at different times of the year, successive transplantations are required. In some areas as many as three transplantations are normal (Hidayati, 1994).

The traditional Banjarese solution to the problem of acidity is to modify the landscape. They deepen the rice fields by building raised mounds that, over time, become a series of raised beds separated by wetland. As these are further developed, the entire agro-ecosystem undergoes change. There is a clear pattern of succession from rice monoculture to a coconut-with-fruit-trees-and-fish system. The process begins with the establishment of a row of raised mounds across a paddy field. Each mound has a single coconut palm. Cassava, sweet potato, or other crops may be grown on the mounds. New mounds are built in between, perhaps with fruit trees and coconuts. Over time, the paddy is further dissected by additional beds. Eventually, deep ditches are formed between the beds, and these are used only for fishing (KEPAS, 1985: 81). Coconuts offer a more stable yield and income than rice, and are much less susceptible to pests. As rice is progressively shaded out by the coconuts, it becomes less and less important. However, new areas are constantly being opened up, so there is a moving frontier of new rice production ahead of older coconut. Emigrant Banjarese also used these techniques from the 1880s when opening swamplands in coastal Sumatra (Potter, 1993a). In West Kalimantan, but earlier, a similar pattern of handling swamplands was evolved by Bugis using slave labour brought from Sulawesi to dig the initial drains (Potter, 1992).

The coastal wetlands were seen as a major area for transmigration development, in part because they are without competing claims to the land. Development began in 1937 during the colonial period, the Javanese migrants living for a year on a Banjarese settlement before being allowed to start on their own in a newly drained area (Potter, 1993a). Abandoning traditional methods in favour of a larger-scale system developed by engineers in Java, the authorities opened a number of schemes in swamp areas of South and Central Kalimantan in the 1950s and 1960s (Hardjono, 1977: 72-77). Some were impoldered with embankments, pumps, and deep canals, but those proved hard to maintain. A separate system of drainage canals was provided in only one case, and large pools were usually constructed at the inland end of the canals to assist the replacement of water. By the late 1970s more than 800,000 ha of coastal wetlands in all Indonesia had been opened up for rice production, principally in Kalimantan and Sumatra. However, only varieties with a long growing period are viable, so that just a single rice crop can be grown in a year. Yields remain low, with major problems of pest infestation to compound those of the acid-sulphate soils (Collier, 1979). Spontaneous migrants, who follow the Banjarese practice and allow coconuts to become the principal crop once the land is drained or raised and sufficiently sweetened, have greater success. Up to the late 1970s, several times the area successfully reclaimed for transmigrants had been reclaimed and used by spontaneous settlers using the old Banjarese system (Koesoebiono, Collier, and Burbridge, 1982).

The transmigrant schemes have had very mixed success, and there has been a high failure rate among settlers without experience in managing such a sensitive environment (Oekan Abdullah, 1993). Very large plans remain unfulfilled. Acidity has remained high, and sulphates continue to be a major problem. At one location in the swamplands of Central Kalimantan the soil has been described as thick peat (4-5 m) with a pH of only 3.8. Plant growth was abnormally small, and chlorosis was present (IIED/GOI, 1985, Annex D). Similar ex periences are recorded in swamp reclamation in West Kalimantan, but close to an area progressively and successfully reclaimed for tree crops by the local people (Elysa Hammond, pers. comm.).

Among all environments used for new settlement, the tidal swamps are the most sensitive to short-term fluctuations in environmental conditions. Drought causes river water to fall, admitting saline water higher up the river; flood can wipe out crops. Short-term fluctuations in sealevel related to the El NiñoSouthern Oscillation (ENSO), such as those that flooded low-lying parts of Jakarta in late 1989 and early 1991, can lead to surges of saline water in the Java Sea coastlands (Soegiarto, 1993). Very evidently, too, even a very small rise - or fall - in relative sealevel could pose serious management problems, while more complete reclamation could lead to peat shrinkage, requiring pumping and sluicing on a large and costly scale. However, the basic problems of the tidal swamp settlements are those of all Indonesian transmigration schemes under the old system: settlers arrive untrained and unprepared for the problems of managing a new environment, are given areas that are too small, and receive inadequate technical support (Hardjono, 1986). Often they have to find their own salvation by learning from the farmers around them (Hidayati, 1994).

Endangerment or criticality in land settlement?

By no means all land settlements in the region have failed to achieve the results anticipated. In the Peninsula a new and more prosperous rural population has been created, and in Kalimantan many betterlocated schemes have thrived. None the less, perhaps even as many as one-half, in all areas together, face serious problems, have been converted into something quite different from the original intention, or have failed. Some of these problems are due directly to the environment: either a wholly unsuitable environment has been chosen, or inappropriate management methods have been adopted. In both countries, other problems are due to location and distance from developed opportunities for local crop marketing and off-farm employment. Still other difficulties, however, are due to wider regional changes. The failure in Malaysia is directly related to national development that has made land settlement, as initially conceived, obsolete. Some of the failures in Indonesia, though related to inadequate returns from the land, have also come about through the emergence of new opportunities, perceived to be better, in the towns or in other areas.

We can agree that land settlement has turned fragile areas into endangered or even critical areas, by developing them in inappropriate ways. Tidal swamps, kerangas, and steep slopes are clear examples. We cannot, however, say that the agricultural development of large areas through land settlement has, taken as a whole, created even serious environmental impoverishment, from the point of view of capacity to support people. Rather it seems to represent a historical phase between the natural condition and the evolution of a new rural society, with new forms of land use. What is clearly becoming passe is the tight institutional control of this transformation. There is, none the less, another aspect: has clearance of so much of the forest for land settlement been the best use of resources? To this we now turn.

Sustainability of timber extraction and the timber-using industry

Employment in forestry and the timber-using industry

Writing at a time when land settlement was in its boom phase, Burbridge, Dixon, and Soewardi (1981) for Indonesia, and Kumar (1986) for Malaysia, argued that a sustainable forestry industry could support a larger workforce than tree-crop agriculture on a per-hectare basis, when account is also taken of jobs in downstream woodworking industries. Kumar's calculations suggested that, whereas logging alone required three times the area per employee of the rubber and oil-palm industries, the addition of downstream processing brought the area required per employee down to less than that for the agricultural industries. On the other hand, a World Bank study has argued for Indonesia that tree-crop estates are a better employmentgenerating option than even forest plantations, notwithstanding the high density of useable timber in the plantations (World Bank, 1989).

These considerations are largely ignored in the conservationist literature, but the arguments raised become of greater importance as the land-settlement drive has run out of steam and in the light of substantial changes in development policy. In chapter 3, we noted the major growth of the downstream woodworking industry in the Peninsula and Kalimantan that has followed the imposition of bans on log exports; the growth of plywood manufacture in Kalimantan has been of a spectacular order. In Indonesia as a whole, an unofficial estimate puts forestry and timber-manufacturing employment as high as 3.7 million, supporting therefore about 15 million people (The Economist 7755,18 April 1992: 28-30). However accurate these estimates may be, probably not less than one-third of timber industry employment would be in Kalimantan. Small regional sawmills alone were estimated by the newspaper Kompas (20 and 24 October 1989) to employ 200,000 people in Indonesia; Kalimantan must have had at least half of these. Even in Sarawak, employment in the timber industry is about 55,000 in direct timber extraction, plus a larger number in associated tasks (ITTC, 1990).

Emerging criticality: Sabah and the Peninsula

Sabah, where log exports have until recently continued without limitation, already faces a serious crisis. Estimates of the area annually cut over fell from 3,640 km²in 1978 to not more than 2,000 km²a decade later (Malaysian Business, 1 August 1988; Country Profile, 1991). Most remaining timber is now hill forest; estimates of the resource have been declining sharply. In 1989, a Forestry Department study foresaw a drop in productivity by almost an order of magnitude between 1988 and 1998, leading to the prediction that "from 1992 onwards, timber production from natural forest would not be able to meet [even] local demand" (Pang, 1990: 10). The same conclusion is reported by Chai and Yahya Awang (1989). Almost the only timber areas remaining productive in the early 1990s were on the 1 million ha concession of the Yayasan Sabah (Sabah Foundation), the inheritor of most of the land of the earlier monopoly holder, the British North Borneo Company. Although oil and gas may sustain state revenues, serious problems are presented to Sabah in this new situation (Murtedza Mohamed and Ti Teow Chuan, 1991).

Belatedly in the late 1980s there was a serious attempt to develop woodbased industry in Sabah, principally simple sawmilling, by imposing quotas and higher export royalties to restrict log exports. Sawmills and veneer and plywood mills all increased sharply in number. With imposed quotas, log exports fell by over one-half between 1987 and 1990, but logs still composed half of Sabah's timber exports in 1992 (Ghazali, 1993a). Although sawn timber production increased by over 40 per cent during the same period, the total volume of exports fell by almost one-third (Country Profile, 1990; Government of Malaysia, Jabatan Perangkaan, 1990). Yet a comprehensive discussion of logging and related problems, which employed sources to 1988 and even 1989, revealed only that logging was up to four times the (estimated) rate of regeneration (Hurst, 1990: 141). The speed of change from apparent surplus to perceived deficit demonstrates the extraordinary measure of self-delusion about the sustainability of timber extraction that has characterized responsible officials and their publicists. This applies not only in Sabah but throughout the region, even in the Peninsula where warnings that there would be a timber deficit by the 1990s have been voiced for more than 20 years (Malayan Forester, 1967; Malaysian Forester, 1978; Kumar, 1986).

The situation in the Peninsula is less serious than that in Sabah only because of the much greater diversity of the economy. For the timber and timber-using industries it is worse. With the rather belated recognition that the employment- and income-generation capacity of a sustainable and integrated wood-based industry is substantial, earlier plans were enlarged in the mid1980s so as to make this a leading area of industrial growth (MIDA/UNIDO, 1985). With good prices, production expanded and at the end of the 1980s the Peninsula had 681 large sawmills, 43 veneer and plywood mills, and more than 1,200 small woodworking plants, furniture factories and other woodusing enterprises (Country Profile, 1990). But predictions of inadequate supply to meet domestic needs became a reality even before the end of the 1980s. There has been an increasingly severe shortage of timber for the mills, for the building industry, for exporters of sawn timber and plywood, and for the downstream factories (Malaysian Business, 16-30 September 1989; 1-15 August 1990; Country Profile, 1990; Reuters News Service, various dates). Logs are hauled right across the Peninsula to the sawmills, some quality logs are sometimes obtained from Indonesia, and rubberwood has been incorporated as a raw material, thus far on a small scale. The future of the big plans for timber manufacture is, notwithstanding optimism, uncertain and is potentially in conflict with the conservationist goals now formally adopted by the government (Brookfield, 1994b).

Response to crisis in the Peninsula and Sabah

This situation, exacerbated by political difficulties between Sabah and the Malaysian federal government, has had consequences of considerable significance. Since the late-1980s there have been persistent demands for some of the logs exported from Sabah and Sarawak to be exported instead to the Peninsula, to ease growing supply shortages (Vincent, 1988). Because this would involve loss of revenue and necessitate lower prices to compensate for high freight costs, both East Malaysian states have consistently resisted the pressure. In 1990, the federal government used powers acquired through the creation of the Malaysian Timber Industry Development Council to impose substantial export levies on sawn timber, which were intended to subsidize the shipment of logs from East Malaysia to the Peninsula. There was little impact, and increasing pressure was then put on Sabah, which, in 1990, elected a new state government opposed to the federal leadership.

In 1992, there was a "crack-down" on illegal logging in the Peninsula, the existence of which had not been officially admitted. The effect was substantially to reduce supplies to the 670 remaining sawmillers in the Peninsula, forcing many to halt or reduce production, and threatening a number with bankruptcy. In January 1993, the federal government responded to pressure by using its powers to impose a temporary ban on the foreign export of logs from Sabah alone, ostensibly in the interest of sustaining supply to Sabah downstream industries, which were said to be operating at 50 per cent of installed capacity. By April, a number of exporters had obtained exemptions, and the federal ban was abrogated in June. In April, however, the Sabah government imposed its own ban on all log exports, while also increasing the duty on exports of sawn timber. Its economy was already in recession in 1992, unlike those of the Peninsula states, and it was threatened by spokesmen for the federal ruling party with a cut in its subsidies.3 Demands for a Peninsular quota as part of the settlement of this dispute seemed a way out in June, but Peninsular sawmillers were still frustrated in their search for access to Borneo timber (Reuters News Service, various dates between January and June 1993). At the same time, Sabah production continued to depend mainly on relogging of areas already worked in the past, threatening to bring closer a collapse, rather than a decline, in timber output.

Impoverishment to endangerment in Kalimantan and Sarawak

Unlike Sabah and the Peninsula, Kalimantan and Sarawak still have more than half of their forests, but shortages have begun to arise in some parts of Kalimantan. Exploitation, whether for log export in Sarawak or for the woodbased industries in Kalimantan, continues at a very high rate. In Sarawak, log exports have expanded, taking up the market share in Japan, Korea, and Taiwan vacated by Indonesia and increasingly also by Sabah (Asean Focus, 1989; Logging and

Resources, 1989; Sarawak Update, 1990). Using estimates of timber density in relation to data on log production, Hong (1987: 128-129) calculated the area logged between 1963 and 1985 as 28,217 km2, about 30 per cent of the whole forest area. Moreover, 60 per cent of the forest area was under concession in 1984.

Conservationist pressures led indirectly to the commissioning of an external review of the Sarawak timber industry by the International Tropical Timber Organization (ITTO) in 1989. It concluded that (ITTC, 1990: 35):

if harvesting of the hill forests continues as at present (13,000,000 m3/yr +/ ), all primary forests in PFE [permanent forest estate] and State land assumed to be available for timber production, including those of more than 60 per cent slope, would have been harvested in about 11 years. At that time only cutover forests would remain. There could then ensue a sharp decline in yield, employment and revenue until the cutover forests mature.

Meantime, harvest levels reached a record 20 million m3 in 1990. The Sarawak authorities interpreted the report as offering encouragement that sustainable forestry not only can, but will, be achieved (Sarawak Update, 1990; Primack, 1991; Wong Kim Min. 1992). The mission indeed found most of the policies to be good, but their implementation to be very inadequate. Above all, the area cut annually had to be reduced greatly. It concluded (ITTC, 1990: 60) that "utilization and management cannot maintain the forest-based economic structure at its present level and, at the same time, sustain it indefinitely into the future."

Primack (1991) interprets the report and its findings to suggest that a reduction of harvesting levels by at least two-thirds is the only way in which a sustainable industry can be achieved. However, it remains to be seen if a 1993 decision merely to halve production by the mid 1990s will be fully capable of implementation. Commitment to reduce production from 12.3 million m3 in 1991 to 9.5 million m3 in 1993 was said to be at the cost of 10,000 jobs in extraction and 25,000 in related activities, with a loss of state revenue of $US50 million.4 The Economist (7833, 8 October 1993: 30-31) reported the conclusion of local and foreign environmental organizations that, although logging might have been reduced in some parts of Sarawak, total yield had not declined. Production was stated to have risen from 15.4 million m3 in 1990 to 18.8 million m3 in 1992 and, despite cuts said to have "cost 30,000 jobs," was expected to total 16.5 million m3 in 1993.

Dependence on natural regeneration was, until very recently, clearly still the aim in Sarawak. Enrichment and "sylvicultural treatment" of dipterocarp forest are planned for 370 km2, but this contrasts with 2,000 km²in Sabah and 3,931 km²in Peninsular Malaysia (Government of Malaysia, 1991a).5 However in 1993, federal and state authorities were said to be looking for 100,000 ha of secondary forest, used by shifting cultivators, for the planting of fast-growing timber species (Ghazali, 1993b).

The ITTO mission was very doubtful about plans to build a woodworking industry to absorb 50 per cent of the cut by 2000, pointing to market uncertainties; not more than 10 per cent of timber was domestically processed at the beginning of the 1990s (Asean Focus, 1989; Country Profile, 1991). Many problems exist, including lack of infrastructure and the fact that the woodworking mills depend heavily on illegal immigrant labour. There is strong pressure on the state and federal governments to impose more extensive bans on log exports, which are currently applied to only a few species. Sarawak, however, has a government that supports the ruling party at national level, and until now calls for bans have been resisted.

In Kalimantan, the total area forested is calculated to have declined from 72 per cent to 63 per cent between the 1982 RePPProT studies and a 1990 Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) report (FAO/GOI, 1990).6 Much of what remains is in inaccessible areas and expensive to work. East Kalimantan experienced a drop of almost 16 per cent, the largest decline of the four provinces, partly as a result of the 1982/83 fire. Concern should have been heightened by the MOF/FAO (1991) study, which concluded that, even with enrichment planting and good seedling regeneration, it would be more likely to take 60-70 years, rather than the 35 years envisaged under the "selective logging scheme," for the next crop of timber to be available. This should halve the expectation of sustainable levels of production.

Moreover, as in Sarawak, many concessionaires (or their multiple contractors) do not operate within the rules. Each year they are supposed to cut only in a designated area, but instead there is evidence of haphazard cutting all over the concessions, or the re-logging of parts of them within the 20-year lease period, which remains standard.7 Inadequate marking of boundaries can lead to the felling of protected forest or even of timber belonging to a neighbouring concession. The latter happened in a wellpublicized case in 1991 (Jakarta Post, 17 July 1991; Tempo, 27 July 1991), but the powerful concessionaire was able to avoid the imposed penalty (The Economist 7755, 18 April 1992: 30).

The Indonesian plywood industry, which draws all its raw material from natural forests, has been warned not to exceed an annual capacity of 10 million m3 through the 1990s, otherwise real shortages of raw materials could arise by 2000. Some say this will happen sooner, by the mid-199Os (MOF/FAO, 1991). In fact, shortages of supply to plywood factories have frequently been reported since 1991 (Indonesian Commercial Newsletter, No. 92, 27 January 1992; No. 119, 8 March 1993), although problems of transport rather than of supply might have been the principal caused The rapid growth of the plywood industry has been possible largely because of low local prices for both logs and labour, which has resulted in a cheaper finished product. Such prices have, however, militated against care and efficiency in all stages of the industry. Plywood plants need to improve efficiency - about half of each log used is wasted in the processingbut this means new machinery, which is expensive. Mill workforces could be cut by 25 per cent without loss of production, on the basis of international comparison. Plywood exports, already overtaken by textiles as the most important non-oil commodity, are likely to decline as local demand increases. Threats of boycotts against Indonesia's plywood exports by some European countries and Japan might also affect the industry's future (Indonesian Commercial Newsletter, 27 January 1992; 28 September 1992). The milling of smaller and lower-quality logs is recommended, as well as, conversely, development of some specialization in high-quality veneers, following the pattern of the Peninsula. Most telling is that publications emanating from the government since the end of the 1980s (FAO/GOI, 1990; MOF/FAO, 1991) suggest an increase in the local price of logs and even a partial lifting of the logging ban for high-quality, but highpriced, timber. In June 1992, Indonesia in fact lifted the ban on exports of raw logs - and rattans - but instead imposed heavy export duties on their foreign sale. A leading entrepreneur expects exports to rise further, notwithstanding these problems and all opposition from environmentalists (Reuters News Service, 22 October 1992).

These changes are seen as ways of improving logging conditions and protecting the remaining forests. However, Goodland, Asibey, and Post (1990: 307), following Jantzen (1973), are undoubtedly right in saying that "sustainable use of tropical moist forest perforce means low yield - hence low financial and commercial attraction." The problem is that it also means low employment, and a transition to sustainability, just as continuation of "business as usual," would cause the loss of many livelihoods now dependent on timber. Sustainable utilization, however, would leave some employment intact.

Plantation forestry as a solution?

Timber shortages are clearly either real or in prospect, posing a severe threat to both entrepreneurship and employment. Given a low rate of success with enrichment planting, growing emphasis is now being placed on plantation forestry to ensure future supply. Though some planting was done on a small scale in the 1970s, the first serious effort began in Sabah in 1983, initially with pines. Other fastgrowing exotics are now mainly used, principally Acacia mangium, Paraserianthes falcataria, Gmelina arborea, and, sometimes, Eucalyptus deglupta. The sites are cleared completely, but without destumping; weeding is required until the seedlings have become young trees and developed a shading canopy. The result, however, should be a forest composed entirely of useful timber, with a high rate of production. In the Peninsula, a sustainable yield on a cycle as short as 15 years is anticipated (Johari, 1988). In general, most areas to be employed are among those already heavily degraded by earlier logging.

With the exception of Gmelina arborea, which makes reasonable furniture, the fast-growing timber is suitable only for construction purposes and as pulpwood or as fillers in plywood. In timber-short Sabah, plans for the five years 1991-1995 included 3,200 km²of new forest plantations (Government of Malaysia, 1991a). This is in addition to the large area designated for enrichment planting. It seems likely that much of the new effort will be in areas burned in 1983, 85 per cent of which had been logged (Collins, Sayer, and Whitmore, 1991: 206). By contrast, only 420 km²are planned for the Peninsula, where the principal reliance continues to be placed on tighter forest management. In Sarawak, forest plantations hardly exist, and plans for the five years 1991-1995 included only 200 km2, yet for some badly degraded areas in western and west-central Sarawak they could be a very suitable use of land. We saw in chapter 1 that attempts to plant trees on some kerangas land, after unsuccessful cultivation, have failed.

Indonesia has already stepped up its reforestation efforts using mainly Acacia mangium, with a view to the future establishment of pulp and paper mills. There have been experimental plantings going back more than a decade on one huge concession in East Kalimantan. At Pulau Laut, off the south-east coast, problems of insect infestation and inappropriate varieties have been encountered and overcome. The selective logging system is now termed the "selective logging and planting system" and, in a new move to encourage investment, the government has permitted areas quite separate from the concessions to be leased for plantation forestry for 35year periods (FAO/GOI, 1990). Although reforestation is supposedly practiced on a part of every concession, little has been developed. This is almost everywhere the case, even in the better-managed Peninsula (Sham, 1987: 44).

In Indonesia moreover, a new type of transmigrant settlement, called HTI (Hutan Tanaman Industri)-Trans, aims at supplying 30,000 Javanese families to West Kalimantan as a labour force for the total replanting programme, estimated to cover 300,000 hectares in 1992/93. These workers, who had previously been engaged on twoyear contracts for development of tree-crop settlements, will extend these contracts to work on tree planting. The intention is that they will return to their villages in Java after completing replanting, so that, in effect, a new sort of contract-labour scheme is emerging (Kompas, 28 April 1992). A 1992 workshop on the arrangements for linking transmigration with forest estates was told that the transmigrants would own no land, because they would be located in areas classed as "production forest." They would have the use of a small cultivation plot only (Departemen Transmigrasi, 1992). Such conditions have attracted severe criticism, and the scheme has been described as "timber estate slavery" by one non-governmental organization (Economic and Business Review of Indonesia 5, 7 May 1992: 10).9

Ecological risk in plantation forests

Sabah Softwoods, the pioneer in the region, still regards plantations as highrisk ventures, with a considerable degree of skill required in monitoring and management (Golokin and Cassels, 1988). Moreover, there is risk of disease and pest invasion owing to the narrow genetic base; it is acknowledged that the whole stock of Acacia mangium in Sabah comes from a single Australian parent (Salleh and Hashim, 1982). It has been reported from several sources that up to one-third of Acacia mangium in some plantations is affected by a rot that causes hollow boles, making the timber of no use for any purpose but wood chipping and pulping, and adding to the danger when felling (Hadley and Kartawinata, 1993: 37-38; Hashim, Maziah, and Sheikh, 1991). Apparently that problem is more acute on the Peninsula than in Borneo (N. Turvey, pers. comm.). Most certainly, biodiversity within plantation forests will be extremely low.

Moreover, in areas where drought is a recurrent hazard - Sabah and East and South Kalimantan especially - important questions arise regarding the drought-tolerance of the planted species. Most have little fire resistance, and there is the additional risk that repeated fire could lead to abandonment and conversion of the sites to Imperata cylindrica grassland. Fire risk is most serious where the preexisting vegetation is already grassland, as in areas of South Kalimantan. The grass burns readily in the dry season and, even in normal years, some of the new plantings have already been lost. This risk and the social problems associated with these replantings are discussed in chapter 9.

Conflict of interest and the prospect for change

Conflict of interest in the face of supply limitations

Over the entire region it is now possible that the timber industry, as a whole, supports numbers of people comparable with agriculture in the new settlement areas - both official and spontaneous - that have been carved out of the former forest. More certainly, it supports a minority of its participants at much higher levels of income than are obtainable in any agriculture. The question of the sustainability of this employment is therefore of major importance. Critics continue to assert that unsustainable logging practices are likely to put future timber-related employment in jeopardy, including downstream industrial processing in the urban centres. This is hotly denied by official writers who are also timber entrepreneurs, such as Sarawak politician Wong Kim Min (1992). He maintains that selective forestry, as now reformed and practiced, is entirely sustainable; perhaps surprisingly, he receives the support of no less an authority than Brünig, who contributes an introduction to his book.10 However, we have seen above that sawmills in both Sabah and the Peninsula are already in serious straits.

A major conflict of interest is emerging between those whose primary interest lies in maximizing profits (and rents) from the production of roundwood, sawn timber, or plywood in a context of diversi fied sources, and those whose continued well-being depends on the sustainable supply of timber to the sawmills, plywood mills, and factories. This conflict appears even among the most powerful of the entrepreneurs in Indonesia (The Economist 7755, 18 April 1992: 30). As an unexpressed conflict of interest, it more widely sets contractors and illegal loggers, on the one hand, against the factory workers on the other. It has regional expression, as between the entrepreneurs and authorities in East Malaysia and the Peninsula, now raised to a political level in the case of Sabah. In West Kalimantan, some plywood mills already need to bring in supplementary supplies of logs from Sarawak (Dines Kehutanan, Kalbar, 1990). Moreover, shortages of higher-quality logs will soon be felt in Sumatra, as they already are in the Peninsula, so it is suggested that Kalimantan's mills should begin to diversify their equipment so that they can supply some of Sumatra's needs, and begin at the same time to process lower-quality logs instead of simply sending them to the sawmiller (FAO/GOI, 1990).

More significantly, there is also conflict of interest between operators of different scale. Indonesian export taxes and restrictions on timber access, designed to help conserve supply, accentuate this conflict. Whereas the large sawmillers attached to the concessions in Kalimantan produce a high-quality product and continue to do well, the medium-sized mechanized mills have had a difficult time. In South Kalimantan, they have disappeared from rural areas, forcing the people of whole villages to move to town. Moreover, in the city, there is now a gap between the very large producers and the tiny, handoperated wantilan, which use offcuts from the bigger mills and cater to the bottom end of the market (Potter field survey, July 1991).

The same problems have emerged among processors of rattan carpets. The industry developed from a rural cottage base, from where it gained access to the Japanese market, with the encouragement of local officials. Tighter restrictions on quality and export regulation have seen its increasing concentration in large urban factories and even a shift from Banjarmasin to Surabaya in Java. These changes index a tendency toward centralization as resources become less abundant, greatly exacerbating inequalities and reducing local opportunities. It is significant that it is the least well-off who suffer most.

The difficulties standing in the way of a change in this situation are well expressed, for Indonesia, by Petrich (1993: 71-77), who writes:

Economic activity is dominated by "a dense, intensely personal network of public monopolies, private cartels, and bureaucratic fiddles." Foremost among the protected industries is the forest products area. Here the President's closest friends and family have long ago secured (and continue to amass) incredible fortunes through what are, to all intents and purposes, unregulated logging practices, protectionist policies, favouritism, nepotism, corruption, etc. No Indonesian environmental policy formulation - or implementation and formulation thereof - in the forestry area is done without consideration of the effects on or consultation with a handful of selected businessmen. The main obstacle to reform in this area is, therefore, a lack of political will.

For Malaysia, we similarly have to note the coincidence of political success in Sarawak with the award of logging concessions. As a part of the ongoing conflict between federal and state authorities differing in political persuasion, the Chief Minister of Sabah has been charged in the courts with nepotism in the award of timber contracts. In the Peninsula, a quite remarkable tale goes unrecorded, in which it is said that some specialists were invited to recommend for conservation a remaining forest area in the state in which they resided, only to see a logging concession over their selected area allocated to a company led by the close relative of a state ruler.11

At the highest levels, these remain the realities in eastern Sundaland. At lower levels the interconnections between politicians or the military (in Indonesia), mainly Chinese entrepreneurs, local Malay or Dayak notables, and the bureaucracy lead to many arrangements. So long as there is money to be made these are likely to continue. Below this level are the understandings between subcontractors, Dayak villagers, and under-resourced transmigrant settlers, which facilitate what is called "illegal logging." Such arrangements, as old in their nature as any in history, will persist as long as high demand for tropical timbers continues. Those ultimately responsible, therefore, are the consumers of tropical timber (often for purposes where the special qualities of these slow-growing woods are in no way a necessary requirement) in Japan, America, Europe, and elsewhere in the developed world.

In 1991 the International Tropical Timber Organization issued a document, after lengthy discussion, specifying how a sustainable tropical timber production could be achieved by the year 2000. Each participating country is expected to adopt a compatible plan. International timber entrepreneurs, such as Elliott (1992: 320), believe that this will generate "a new horizon for Forestry in the Tropics." Preparations are being made, in both Malaysia and Indonesia, to be able to have all timber exports labelled as being produced by sustainable methods by 2000.12 However, by the year 2000 not too much of the huge resource that was still there in 1960 will be left.


For those areas not already converted to agriculture, the greatest risk of future criticality arises from pressures to log even more intensively. This is least a risk in the Peninsula, where there is a well-researched forestry system (Salleh and Tang, 1973; Mok, 1977; Salleh, 1978). Despite limitations due to a federal system under which forest concessions are a matter for the states, a strong Forest Department is increasingly capable of implementing its policies. These have recently included a 12.5 per cent reduction in the permitted coupe between 1985 and 1990 (Government of Malaysia, 1991a). Illegal logging, a major problem in most parts of Borneo, has been less of a problem in the Peninsula, though it did exist, and might still do so despite enforcement of regulations in 1992.13 Unauthorized invasion by cultivators, too, is nowadays a problem principally of Borneo, where it includes enlargement of the clearings of shifting cultivators; we review this further in the next chapter. 14

In the areas converted there are clearly problems, and there must remain a question as to whether it has been wise to convert so much, so quickly, rather than exploit the timber of the forest on a more rational basis, integrated with an appropriately scheduled wood-using industry. This, however, is to use hindsight - a poor tool in any planning. The sound management systems that could make sustainable forestry possible have been worked out only while the timber boom has been in full swing, and the real recovery time of natural forest is only now being established. Moreover, policy has not yet caught up with the fact that this period might be at least twice that previously envisaged. By the time sustainable forestry is firmly in place the resource will have been reduced to a tiny fraction of its former size.

There is, therefore, room for considerable doubt concerning the long-term future of the forestry and wood-using industries of the region, and over the employment prospects of the large population now dependent on these industries. What is already happening in Sabah is likely to become the pattern over a much larger area during the coming 10 years. Adapting Jodha's (1990) sense of the term, discussed in the Appendix, the whole forest-based economy must be regarded as "fragile," unable to withstand the pressures currently placed on its resource base. Moreover, and contrary to the conclusion proposed by Rockwell and Moss (1992), this threatened collapse is in an economy wide open to the international market, and closely related to that openness. Clearly, a period of major adaptation is in prospect. The "resource frontier" phase, both in forestry and in agriculture, is either at or will soon reach an end, whether to lead to collapse or to a sustainable future. This is the interim conclusion that we carry forward in the argument of this book. It leads, logically, to questions regarding the indigenous people of the forest.


1. Tree fall, especially when a number of trees fall simultaneously in rare high-wind events, dislodges a considerable amount of soil around the roots.

2. The comparison between runoff rates under forest and on cleared land is given at 25 per cent, against 75 per cent by other writers (Mooney et al., 1987; Salati et al., 1989).

3. A part of this pressure involved statements, allegedly by sources in the central bank, that Sabah log production had increased by 43 per cent in 1992, to a figure almost twice the state's officially recorded output (Lad Kwok Kin, 1993).

4. The Chief Minister hoped that this action would gain Sarawak exemption from controls of tropical timber imports threatened in some developed countries (Business Wire, 1993).

5. However, enrichment planting has been regarded as unsuccessful in the Peninsula in the past and little is now done (Aten Suwandi, n.d.).

6. In 1990, Kalimantan was estimated still to have 22.7 million ha in forest with "management potential," i.e. outside protected areas, national parks, etc. Of this, nearly 6 million ha (26 per cent) was classified as "conversion and unclassed forest" (eventually to be cleared for agriculture and other activities) and 16.7 million ha was production forest. Of the production forest, 10.8 million ha was classed as "unlogged," 4 million ha as "logged," and 1.9 million ha as "heavily logged" (FAO/GOI, 1990).

7. Most current concessions have expired or were due to expire between 1993 and about 1995. Therefore the opportunity exists to offer longer periods, which might encourage concessionaires to adopt more conservationist logging policies.

8. This is discussed further in relation to factories in the city of Banjarmasin in chapter 10.

9. During mid-1992 fieldwork Potter learned from local people in South Kalimantan that they do not like working on these estates, which would explain why Javanese are being recruited to fill this labour shortage. Mayer (1988, 1989) has described problems of poor health conditions, particularly due to malaria, within the HTI and also the uncertainties associated with short-term labour contracts with local people.

10. The Economist (7833, 8 October 1993: 31) reports that Mr Wong had recently announced a US$143 million deal involving property, a coal mine, and almost 200,000 ha of forest. Mr Wong, however, continued to insist that the concession would be managed sustainably. 11. No source can be given. In Malaysia it remains treason to criticize the state rulers.

12. Meantime, great concern arose over a unilateral Austrian decision to require such labelling in 1992, a Dutch decision to do the same by 1995, and pressures to impose such require meets throughout the European Union. After some lobbying by the Indonesian and Malaysian governments, the Austrian law was repealed in 1993 (Business Times [Malaysia], 7 October 1993; Reuters News Service, various dates).

13. Cargoes of logs of uncertain origin have reportedly been seen in some east coast ports.

14. In the Peninsula there is localized invasion of the forests by commercial shifting cultivators, especially for the cultivation of ginger, which commands a high market price (Brookfield, Samad Hadi, and Zaharah Mahmud, 1991: 71). However, since illegal clearings must be small to remain undiscovered, the long-term damage to the forests is less than where larger clearings are made.

The issues

People at risk?

An abundant semi-popular literature recounts the severe pressures on the indigenous (Dayak and other) peoples of Borneo brought about by timber extraction and conversion of forest for land settlement (e.g. Hong, 1987; Sahabat Alam Malaysia, 1987, 1990; Pura, 1990).¹In the more dramatic versions of the complaint, it is stated that some of the forest people are at grave risk of extinction, at least as distinctive tribal groups, in consequence of the destruction of resources on which they depend. Less alarmist accounts point to serious conflict between the people on the one hand, and logging companies supported by government on the other; the widely publicized blockades of timber roads in Sarawak in 1987-1989 are the principal expression of this conflict (Sahabat Alam Malaysia, 1990; World Rainforest Movement, 1992). Still others point simply to the indisputable fact that the land claims of forest people, being either unrecognized or only partly recognized by the authorities, are often ignored when logging concessions are issued (e.g. Hurst, 1990; ITTC, 1990) or when new land settlement is planned. Although a high proportion of this literature focuses on Sarawak, the same problems are also present in Kalimantan and parts of Sabah, and quite seriously affect the Orang Asli in the Peninsula. On the face of it, there seems to be something very like true criticality in the PROCEZ sense, which makes a close examination important.

Forest and land at risk?

There is also a second set of issues, considerably older than the recent concern for the forest people. Shifting cultivators require a multiple of the amount of land they use in any given year; and they employ fire as an integral part of site preparation.2 Massive and multi-faceted criticism of the "primitive" practices of these "forest eaters" goes back long before the beginning of the twentieth century, and much of Spencer's (1966: 3) statement concerning reactions to the "destruction and waste" can still stand:

Almost a priori the modern forester uses a standard vocabulary on the subject, whether he is a commercial timberman, a government civil servant, or a member of an international organization. Many soils men use a somewhat similar vocabulary. Agronomists normally stress the low productivity rather than the waste and destruction. Conservationists normally decry the destruction of flora, fauna and wild landscapes, but express less concern for the economic problems of the peoples involved. Anthropologists sometimes tend to apologize for the alleged destruction, if they acknowledge it at all ... Here and there a dissenting voice has been raised.

In some quarters it continues quite unhesitatingly to be stated that shifting cultivators are the major cause of forest destruction (e.g. Laird, 1991). However, changes must now be made to parts of Spencer's statement. Since almost the time at which he wrote, a majority of anthropologists have maintained that, under certain conditions, the system is sustainable, while reading and re-reading of the classic study by Nye and Greenland (1960), together with recent work in northern Amazonia (Jordan, 1989) and elsewhere, has tempered the view of at least some "soils men." Nowadays, many forest biologists as well as conservationists argue that the system can be in harmony with the environment under clearly defined conditions, though this acceptance does not go so far as to achieve explicit recognition in the UNCED document, Agenda 21 (United Nations, 1993). Certainly, few among foresters and officials have changed their views, and the two national governments - like most in the tropics - remain committed to eliminating shifting cultivation in all its forms, "because it is against our policy of planting forests and preserving the environment" (President Suharto of Indonesia, quoted in Laird, 1991: 6). When those of different persuasions meet, the outcome is more often conflict than compromise. It is necessary that we seek a way out of the maze.

Deconstructing shifting cultivation

A problem of definition

"Shifting cultivation" is among the least satisfactory of all descriptors for a set of farming systems in which almost the only common factor is reliance on natural regeneration of capability under fallow as a major element in management. Within the South-East Asian tropics, Spencer (1966: 164-165), following and elaborating Conklin (1957) and Watters (1960), distinguished 18 sub-types without exhausting all possibilities. Rather than attempt further to classify it is better simply to note some of the main sources of variation within this "one system." As emphasized by Pelzer (1978), it is a "system" of great variety and flexibility.

First, the fallow period can range from a few months to many years, and it may be much longer than the cultivation period, no longer, or even shorter. Ruthenberg (1980) suggests that, where the ratio of land under cultivation to land under fallow exceeds 33 per cent, "shifting cultivation" passes into a "fallow system," and that where it exceeds 70 per cent we are dealing with "permanent upland cultivation"; however, not even this simple rule of thumb seems to have gained wide adoption. Secondly, and importantly, the landrotational element is complicated by the widely differing nature of the non-arable land cover, which is not always just naturally regenerating bush fallow or grass; some systems might be better described as including deliberate elements of agroforestry. Thirdly, many systems are mixed, and include permanent-field as well as shifting-field arable areas. Fourthly, a considerable number incorporate a range of agro-technical practices for the management of land, its biota, and water. Moreover, many systems are so far from being static that they undergo significant change even within one human generation.

Though clearance of primary forest was almost certainly a pioneering phase in all systems, only a minority still rely wholly or even mainly on the annual invasion of new areas previously untouched, or untouched for so long as to have reverted to a forest structurally similar to the "virgin" stands. Such a "pioneering" phase inevitably has a limited duration in all areas other than those of extremely low population density. We refer here back to the discussion in chapter 2, where it was noted that parts of the Borneo interior have suffered heavy depopulation over the past one to two centuries. The present concentration on secondary forest, rather than primary forest, in most shifting cultivation regions of Borneo might thus be a consequence of demographic history. For a small minority of forest people, cultivation is only supplementary to the collection and hunting of wild foods, yet for what may be a majority of all farmers with access to forests, such collection and hunting remain an important source of food - especially in times of shortage - and of tradable goods.

The basis of sustainable shifting cultivation in its pure form is identical with that of a true sustainable forestry. The biomass is allowed to recover to the level at which it will, after clearance, permit a new harvest as good as the previous one. Two elements are involved in the case of farming: the biomass itself and also the action of growing trees in drawing on mineral resources unavailable for food crops, so that these can in turn be released to the soil.3 Padoch (1986) introduces a useful diagnostic element by distinguishing between farmers to whom the state and content of the vegetation are the main determinant of which land to cultivate next, and those who are more concerned with the inherent qualities of the soil and water. This might be overdrawn, because many forest farmers will take both into account, but the polar distinction is between the true shifting cultivator, whose crops rely principally on the short-term nutrient supply provided by the biomass, and the longer-term cultivator who farms the soil, and sometimes irrigates or drains it. Another basis of differentiation, important in this region, could lie in the management of the forest itself, for some communities have large forest tracts composed principally of either conserved or planted useful trees, while others have little but the natural regrowth. These contrasts may be underlain by others, often though not necessarily reflected in the system of resource management, such as the longevity of settlement on the same general site, and the density of population.

Who and where are the shifting cultivators?

Definition is clearly difficult, and available data on numbers of shifting cultivators tend to group all types together. For Indonesia as a whole, studies carried out in the early 1980s and used by Soewardi (1983) estimated 985,000 families, not including three of the country's provinces, Irian Jaya being one of them. An FAO (1982) estimate reached 12 million people, or 2.4 million families. For Kalimantan alone, more recent figures suggest that around 5.5 million ha of land used for shifting cultivation is occupied by 228,000 families or 1.1 million people, including 338,000 in West Kalimantan and 434,000 in Central Kalimantan (FAO/GOI, 1990). The area of shifting cultivation land used in this estimate included all regrowth forest up to about five years of age (Weinstock, 1989). These data are derived largely from the RePPProT (1985, 1987a, 1987b) studies, using all available remote-sensing, aerial photography, and cartographic information, and may provide the most useful figures. It is, however, far from clear how a distinction of "up to five years' forest regrowth" can adequately be drawn from currently available remote-sensing imagery or from cloud-infested air photography of the resolution generally encountered in this region. On forest data derived from remote-sensing imagery, specifically in the South-East Asian context, Blasco and Achard (1990) write of "ambiguities and impossibilities" that should cast serious doubt on figures of considerably less precision than this. Sidewise-looking radar data, not affected by cloud cover, were available for some areas but do not solve the problem of estimating tree age. In terms of land occupied, these data show that shifting cultivation is most important in West and Central Kalimantan, where it is estimated to take up 24 per cent and 22 per cent of the forest area respectively.

Data for Malaysian Borneo are of even lower reliability. Thus, in Sarawak, 19 per cent of the state was estimated as used for shifting cultivation at about the end of the 1970s by Hatch (1982). Colchester (1989: 49) cites studies using aerial photography as showing a rather larger area of 3.2 million ha cleared and burnt at some stage. This was further raised to 3.5 million ha (28 per cent of the country) by Kavanagh, Abdullah, and Hails (1989), using an estimate by Marajan and Dimin (1989) based on 1985 Landsat imagery. Estimates of the area actually cleared and planted in any one year, however, range from 158,900 ha (WWF Malaysia, 1985, quoted by Colchester, 1989) to 72,000 ha (Chin, 1985). As we shall see below, estimates of the primary forest area invaded differ by even greater margins. In terms of numbers of people, Zuraina Majid (1983) estimated "at least" 260,000 people cultivating 2.15 million ha; this is about half the indigenous non-Malay and non-Chinese population. Some clearly erroneous estimates classify all these people as "shifting cultivators."

For Sabah, official data suggest that around 30 per cent of the population, or 350,000 people, practice shifting cultivation on an area of 1.1 million ha. Of this, 37 per cent is "current," 58 per cent "regrowth," and 5 per cent grassland (Sabah Forestry Department, 1990). This corresponds roughly with the main areas occupied by three specific ethnic groups. If we were to follow Ruthenberg's (1980) rule of thumb discussed above, they would, on the basis of the figures given, be practicing "fallow" rather than "shifting" cultivation. Zuraina Majid (1983) estimated only 430 km²of swidden land in Sabah in the 1970s. For the Peninsula, where everyone agrees that there is little shifting cultivation, the same study estimates about 36,00040,000 shifting cultivation people among the Orang Asli. In the Peninsula, however, the land area actually cultivated under swidden is found by land-use survey to be under 50 km2, possibly because mapping from air photographs would fail to pick up any but large clearings. The same problem probably affects Zuraina Majid's figures for Sabah. Her estimate of numbers in the Peninsula is essentially "about 60 per cent" of "about 60,000," to paraphrase her explanation. Rambo (1988), using data by Benjamin (1985) and others, notes that shifting cultivation is central to the economy only of the Senoi of the main range, who number about 40,000. Most of those in the south are horticulturalists, with some shifting fields. All depend heavily on foraging and hunting for tradable goods and for either supplementary or (among a minority) principal sources of food.

All these estimates must be treated with great caution. Both the numbers of shifting cultivators and the area they use are politically loaded data, to be employed in support of one or another argument in a fairly virulent debate. Some of the recent estimates based on remote sensing may include some land cut over for timber in the area estimated as affected by shifting cultivation. We shall see more of this below. Moreover, it would be strange if precise figures could be obtained in regard to such an ill-defined and diverse set of cultivation systems. Perhaps it is best to fall back on only the crudest of bases for estimation. Within the whole island of Borneo about one-third of the people, more than 3 million, are broadly classed as Dayak - indigenous tribal people (Aye and King, 1986: 13).4 Probably a majority among these practices various forms of shifting, fallow, and mixed systems of cultivation, in Ruthenberg's (1980) sense. For the Peninsula, we can probably say only that the figure is larger than it was once thought to be, but is unlikely to exceed 50,000.

Except for these estimates of land area that are derived from aerial photography and remote sensing, all numerical data relate only to the swidden land of tribal people. Shifting cultivation by other peoples Malay, Banjarese, other Islamic people, and Chinese - has waxed and waned through time. Swiddens in the true sense were common in the Peninsula in the nineteenth century (Jackson, 1968a), and were still very significant early in the twentieth century when, for example, 30 per cent of rice in one eastern state was grown in swiddens (Hood Salleh and Seguin, 1983: 169). Later, with the progress of land registration and the development of rubber, most rural Malays became concentrated into valley villages, and the use of swiddens almost ceased.

In the Peninsula, there was a renewed increase in shifting cultivation during the disturbed period of the Japanese war, when many people escaped the hardships of the occupation by moving into the forests. This might also be true of parts of Kalimantan, especially West Kalimantan. Most of this new dispersion was forcibly ended in the Peninsula during 1950-1954 by the use of emergency powers to concentrate scattered people, in an attempt to deny rebels access to food, supporters, and information (Stubbs, 1989). Most were Chinese "squatters," but they included Malay villagers in small forest communities and some Orang Asli. By no means all those forcibly moved had practiced shifting cultivation, but a total of about 570,000 people were resettled in confined "new villages" between 1950 and 1954. In Kalimantan, shifting cultivation by non-indigenous people increased substantially during the 1980s as a result of spontaneous settlement and also the failure of some transmigrant schemes, as discussed in chapter 5.

Different ways of farming the forests

Classic shifting cultivation

In the region as a whole, the great majority of "shifting cultivators" are indeed tribal people, but their practices include the whole range of variations reviewed above. In Sarawak, about which there is the greatest concentration of completed and published research concerning indigenous people, it is probable that many fewer than half the Dayak and other tribal people practice shifting cultivation in anything like its simple and classic form. In the more densely occupied western areas, the pioneering stage made famous by Freeman (1955, 1970) is long past. The true swiddeners occupy the more sparsely populated eastern parts of Sarawak, and are composed of several ethnic groups. Most have a history of migration in recent centuries, especially the numerous Iban and the other groups whom they drove out and slaughtered ahead of them (Padoch, 1982b; Lian, 1987, 1993). They live and cultivate along and close to the rivers, penetrating only a limited way into the surrounding forests.

There is considerable similarity between the methods of cultivation adopted by all these people, involving clearing of secondary growth, with a general preference for growth between 10 and 20 years old (Lien, 1987), burning, then dibbling the seed. Weeding practices vary. Swiddens endure from one to three seasons, depending largely on the quality of the soil. Harvests vary greatly, the most important factors being timing of the clearance and success of the burn in relation to the weather, and the care spent on weeding. Yields are rarely bountiful but, although not infrequently less than 0.5 t/ha, may attain more than 3 t/ha of hill rice by a fortunate combination of weather and skill. A "good" harvest is estimated in the range 0.8-1.4 t/ha in the Baram (Chin, 1985: 196), and reported mean yields range from 0.25 to 1.7 t/ha in different parts of Sarawak (Lien, 1987: 130). The methods are described in most of the sources discussed above, and in a larger literature. They are set out clearly by Dove (1981), Chin (1985), Lian (1987), and Padoch (1988). Chin's study, by an ethnobotanist who adopted anthropological field methods to supplement his own, is a classic in terms of its depth of analysis. In a sparsely peopled region, he has no doubt of the sustainability of a system in which almost 90 per cent of plots are fallowed for 15 or more years, and only 10 per cent are used for more than a single year (Chin, 1985: 210).

The range of differences has not been fully explored, except to some degree by Padoch (1982a, 1982b), but is very substantial. The rapacious onward progress into primary forest encountered in the middle Rejang system of Sarawak by Freeman (1955, 1970) might still characterize a minority. Some elements of it, though modified by partial adoption of the more intensive practices of southern neighbours, may be seen in areas close to the Sarawak border in West Kalimantan, still being reoccupied by people decimated by or forced to flee from Iban raiders in the nineteenth century (C. Padoch, pers. comm.). It is perhaps even resurgent in parts of East Kalimantan (Coffer, 1983; Kartawinata and Vayda, 1984), where, sometimes under government direction, people from remote districts are moving closer to the developing areas near the coast in search of markets, and are reducing fallow periods; possessing or hiring chain-saws, they clear larger areas than under subsistence conditions in order to grow cash crops. This has led observers to query whether forest recovery is likely still to occur when areas cleared by several adjacent families reach as much as 300 ha, as compared with 30 ha in the more remote villages (Kartawinata et al., 1984; Inoue and Lahjie, 1990). The reason for a mid-1980s shortening of fallow in the Tinjar valley of Sarawak is different. Shortage of labour existed because so many men were at work in the timber camps, and a higher proportion of the farm work was done by women. More gardens were made in young fallow, especially close to the village, and fewer in the old secondary forest (Lien, 1987). Although population densities along the Tinjar are as low as those on the Baram, where Chin worked a few years before the timber industry had penetrated thus far inland, a substantial number of Tinjar gardens were being used into a second year.

Sustainability of the system depends very heavily on the length of the fallow. This was made very clear by Nye and Greenland (1960), and recent studies elsewhere in the world (e.g. Jordan, 1989; Ramakrishnan, 1992) demonstrate a common characteristic of soil nutrients during the fallow stage. As secondary species put on rapid growth, available nutrients in the soil continue to decline for several years, and it is only as litter fall becomes substantial that nutrients again begin to accumulate. Rarely does this happen in less than 10 years, so that shortening of the fallow below this critical limit leads to cumulative pauperization of the soil. If time is sufficient, however, the system is efficient, and Ramakrishnan (1992: 370) remarks that:

In fact, modern agricultural technology has not been able to develop a more efficient way of maintaining soil fertility in the humid tropics than that possible through natural processes during the secondary successional fallow phase after jhum [swidden cultivation]. With rapid shortening of the jhum cycle during the recent past that has resulted in an average cycle length of about 5 years, this land use system has become untenable because adequate soil fertility cannot be recovered over this shortened fallow phase, and weed potential of the site is aggravated with arrested succession at the weed stage.

This does not, however, mean that an irreparable situation develops. What it does mean is that important modifications must be made.

More intensive use of the fallow

Some regional and local differences between cultivation systems do seem to be related to population pressure bringing about a shortening of fallow periods, and leading in some areas to degradation of the forest (Padoch, 1982b; Jessup and Vayda, 1988). These conditions often evoke the response of more intensive use of the fallow, which, even without population pressure, provides a wide range of food and household products. Chin (1985) and especially Lian (1987) stress the great importance of crops and other useful plants remaining in, planted in, or naturally arising in the fallow, to the total subsistence and cash economies of the communities with which they worked. Under growing pressure of population, sections of fallow increasingly become converted into farmed forests, with a range of fruit trees, including citrus and other marketable fruits (Coffer, 1983; Padoch, 1988; Sather, 1990). They thus supplement the swiddens and relieve pressure on the system. As well as the unfortunate enlargement of swiddens noted above, this intensification of the fallow has also occurred as part of the search for cash incomes. A good deal of rubber is planted in former swidden sites, and this rubber now sometimes survives among a wide range of other useful trees. Almost all Borneo rubber is grown by smallholders. For the Dayaks, it was the first "modern" cash crop, as distinct from the forest produce that has such an ancient history. Usually it is the most important cash crop, but a Dayak rubber grove, in which rubber is intermingled with other trees in an open but multi-storeyed forest, bears very little resemblance to the characteristic regularity of rubber plantings around Malay villages on the Peninsula.5

Further intensification
Complex agro-forests

In more closely settled parts of both western and eastern Borneo, substantial areas close to long-settled villages have been converted into what Hadley and Kartawinata (1993: 43-49) describe as "complex agroforests." They have local names, and in West Kalimantan where they are particularly common they are known as tembawang. Their composition derives, by selective planting and management, from the species of a natural forest that is particularly rich in edible fruits, oil seeds, rattans, medicinal plants, resins, and other useful species. They were reported before 1850 in the hinterland of Pontianak ("Kalamatan," 1848), already in fully developed form. Early in the twentieth century they were described more fully by a Dutch writer as a distinctive form of land use (Later, 1919). This form of intensification, essentially a reconstitution of the forest with similar structure, has a high degree of efficiency in relation to light capture, nutrient turnover, biomass storage, and soil conservation (Gleissman, 1990). Moreover, it provides both seasonal and year-round production for fruit, nuts, and other useful produce.

Three distinct methods of management by Dayak people long res ident in the country north of the Kapuas River and living at fairly high population densities are described by Padoch and Peters (1993). Most common and most complex are forest gardens on former house sites. These originated by planting around the houses, and were then allowed to persist when houses were moved away from the shade of the growing trees. Over a period of several centuries, forest gardens totalling several hundred hectares have been developed in the 1,600 ha area occupied by the people of the village of Tae, whose land retains very little natural forest. Older gardens, however, also contain many volunteer natural species, in addition to those that are planted. One sampled area of 0.2 ha contained 224 trees pertaining to 44 different species, of which 30 produce edible fruits or shoots. In these multistoreyed, planted forests the canopy is usually formed of fruit and nut trees, of which the principal are durian (Durio spp.) and illipe (or tengkawang) nut trees (Shorea macrophylla), together with sugar palms (Arenga), langsat (Lansium), jackfruit, rambutan, and mangosteen. Rubber is also important, and there are bamboos and forest species that provide wood and from which resin (damar) may be tapped. Planted species also include the slow-growing Borneo ironwood (Eusideroxylon zwageri). Rattan, of which Borneo has the world's richest range of species (Dransfield, 1992), is also planted, though because of the thorns on many varieties - usually away from useful trees that need to be tended frequently or harvested. In some areas they are planted in swidden sites where, taking up to 20 years to mature, they occupy the whole non-cultivation period. Wild relatives of many planted species also occur, and there are a considerable number of medicinal plants.6 As in many other parts of Borneo, illipe nuts are an important sale commodity but, since modern reconstruction of a nearby feeder road between 1975 and 1978 and its more recent tar-sealing, very large quantities of durians have been marketed during the short annual season. Rubber provides a constant, though smaller, source of income. The motor cycle, both on the road and on the 5km earth track joining it to the village, is the means of transport to market for all these commodities.

Padoch and Peters (1993) describe two further types of managed forest in the same community land. Some forest was set aside many generations ago and has never been cleared. Its products, which include a higher proportion of wood and rattan as well as fruit and nuts, are, however, collected. Third are cyclic forests developed from swidden plots by planting of rubber and fruit trees while the hill rice is ripening. When these trees have ended their useful life, the land may again be cleared for swidden. However, in 1992, only half the inhabitants of Tae farmed any swiddens at all; a great deal of effort was also going into the expansion of the wet-rice area, to which we turn again below.

We may, perhaps, see complex agro-forests in the course of development in other parts of the region, as home gardens are enlarged and fruit trees augment and replace rubber on the Peninsula, and as greater value is obtained from the fallow even in sparsely peopled parts of Borneo. A simpler version, where clusters of durians were encouraged by cutting out unwanted species so as to create a durian grove, was described among Orang Asli of the Peninsula in the nineteenth century (Westerhout, 1848). Colfer (1983) regards the East Kalimantan Kenyah as practicing agro-forestry, rather than agriculture alone. Lahjie and Seibert (1988) describe similar systems in other parts of East Kalimantan. In Sarawak, Lian (1987: 156) maps a considerable area of "rubber, coffee and fruit gardens" along the Tinjar River, and Chin (1985) details the large number of useful trees conserved and cultivated by other Kenyah on the Baram. Farmers in almost all parts of Borneo cultivate at the very least fruit trees, such as durian and rambutan, and oil-bearing nuts - illipe or tengkawang in the west, kemiri or candle nut in the east and south. Illipe nut trees are mainly Shorea macrophylla, but some other Shorea spp. also bear nuts. In parts of the forest these trees are numerous. However, they yield timber of high quality and Lian (1987: 71) records that, in the Tinjar valley of Sarawak, some of these trees have been felled by contractors, and even by their local employees. "Among the timber rafts which I checked with the help of persons who could recognize the species, there was no raft that did not have at least 10 logs from this tree." Despite official prohibitions, the same has been observed by Potter in Central Kalimantan, where jelutong (Dyera costulata) was also among species felled.


The cultivation of wet rice in sawahs is not new among the Dayaks; the Lun Dayeh case in East Kalimantan may be the only one to have been thoroughly described, but a similar technology is practiced by the Kelabit in Sarawak (Padoch, 1985, 1986). The Lun Dayeh occupy an area of steep hills and broad, flat valleys with a high proportion of kerangas land; their skilful use of wet rice in preference to swidden, which is of only supplementary significance, would seem to be an adaptation to the conditions of the site and a matter of preference.

They regularly obtain yields up to 2 t/ha (C. Padoch, pers.comm.). Certainly, Lun Dayeh sawah has nothing to do with modern population pressure. Ngaju Dayak in the swampy lands of Central Kalimantan also plant extensive areas of wet rice, again with no pressure from high population density to cause them to do so. Outside the Dayak regions, there is extensive wet-rice cultivation among coastal and riverine Malay and Chinese, and especially among the Banjarese of the Hulu Sungai region of South Kalimantan.

Widely scattered through a considerable area, especially, but not only, of western Borneo, is the paya (swamp rice) system, in which wet patches by springs and along flood plains are only roughly levelled after being cleared and burnt. Rice is broadcast, dibbled into them directly, and thinned after establishment; seedlings are also obtained from dry-land nurseries. The sites are used on a short-fallow rotation (Dove, 1980; Padoch, 1982a, 1988). Paya economizes on land but requires more labour than dry-field cultivation and, for this reason, is unpopular with some. However, yields are more reliable and, since land can be used frequently and is usually accessible, there are countervailing advantages. In several parts of closely settled western Borneo, plots occupy any small wetland depression. Often, paya plots are immediately adjacent to dry swiddens so that, when the crops are in full growth, the rice seems to rise up from the flat onto the slope without a break.

In areas of higher population density, however, there is an observable or researchable transition from semi-wetland conditions to full sawah. One form that this takes, briefly mentioned in chapter 2, has been observed by both Brookfield and Potter, in western and eastern Borneo respectively. Swamp forest is cleared to make temporary wet fields ("wet swiddens") still with stumps and logs, and surrounding secondary forest at various heights indicates the location of former wet-rice clearings. Especially close to natural watercourses and thus in lines, some of these fields are bunded, and over time become permanent sawah. One stage in this transition is described by Goodall (1929) and another by Padoch (1982a). Along the northern coast of West Kalimantan, Seavoy (1973, 1980) described a particularly rapid transition to sawah under pressure of growing population among the Melayu people of this region; a similar transition has recently been observed by Potter in the southern part of West Kalimantan. However, it must be added that, although paya and sawah are readily recognizable as archetypes, the widely observable transi tion between them does not readily admit of any clear break from one to the other.

Often, the transition requires a great deal of work over a long period. In the same West Kalimantan community discussed in detail above, with a present population density of 88/km2, C. Padoch (pers. comm.) has traced the development of a sawah belt along a principal stream from swidden and paya half a century ago. A critical stage was the construction of a small diversionary canal in the later days of Dutch administration. At the sides of the valley, fields are being progressively dug down to a level at which they can be irrigated, and are meanwhile being worked on a wet/dry basis, rice being dibbled into still-dry ground early in the wet season. Seedlings are grown in dry beds, as for swidden, and planted out in the sawah, which are prepared by hoe and not with the aid of livestock. The stream is small, and three times in remembered history it has dried to a level too low to provide irrigation; in these years, the most recent of which was the ENSO year 1982/1983, all rice had to be dibbled.

The regional landscape suggests that this example is common to quite a large area. The labour input is heavy and yields are low but, by degrees, sawah and complex agro-forestry are progressively replacing shifting cultivation. Few swiddens now remain. Even some terracing for sawah formation has begun to emerge, as well as the management of small valleys in stepped sawah with field-to-field flow of water. All this has taken place virtually without external intervention, barring a little support in the colonial period.

Elsewhere, government assistance has been more actively instrumental in the development of sawah, with assistance schemes taken up in a very small way even in remote communities (Chin, 1985). Lian (1987) reports two waves of sawah innovation in the Tinjar valley of Sarawak, the first unsuccessful and the latter rather more promising, being adopted under the incentive of the need to reduce male labour requirements for land clearing, in an economy rendered short of labour by participation in the timber industry. In a few localities in Kalimantan, logging companies have assisted the development of sawah in order to reduce shifting cultivation and hence free the land for their own activities. Assisting forest villagers to eliminate shifting cultivation by helping them become permanent farmers is now official government policy and must be attempted by all logging companies. This is known as the Bina Desa Hutan (rehabilitating forest villages) programme and is discussed in chapter 9.

Unlike the spontaneous transformation of farming systems essentially under population pressure in West Kalimantan, however, the success of these sponsored innovations remains uncertain.

Forest dwellers under forces of change

The changing use of forest products

People everywhere who live close to forests make use of wild products. In South-East Asia, especially in Sundaland and most particularly in Borneo, this use is developed to an unusually high degree, and this is why the use of fallow can so readily be intensified. The underlying reason is the great biodiversity of the rain forests, which offer such a wide range of food, medicinal, and tradable products that the extraction and export of the latter have involved this region in world trade for most of two millennia. The "non-timber forest products," until lately called "minor forest products," were, until the nineteenth century, among the most important export commodities of South-East Asia and a major element in life support of the region's people.

Almost all the forest and forest-fringe people of Borneo and the Peninsula still make use of wild foods, and all non-Muslims hunt every kind of wildlife, among which feral pigs are of major importance. For shifting cultivators in the sparsely peopled areas, wild foods remain an important part of the total diet and hunting is a frequent - and much enjoyed - activity. Caldecott (1992) provides considerable detail for Sarawak. However, only a very tiny proportion of the region's people still depend mainly on these wild foods for their livelihood except in rare times of famine. Among these are the 2,500 Semang of the northern Peninsula and some of the 10,000 or so Penan (and other groups) of Sarawak and adjacent parts of Kalimantan. The Semang, and some other Orang Asli, rely principally on wild yams as a staple food; the Penan on sago extracted from the upland palm Eugeissona utilis (Rambo, 1979, 1988; Brosius, 1986; Langub, 1988; Kavanagh, Abdullah, and Hails, 1989; Lian, 1993). Orang Asli on the Peninsula use up to 65 other plants for food, some of which they partly cultivate; this is fewer than one-third of the number of plants both used and at least partly cultivated by the Baram Kenyah of Borneo (Chin, 1985: 226). Hunting, using traps, blowpipes, and poison, and latterly some firearms, is also of major importance; Rambo (1988) cites information that one small Orang Asli group killed 102 animals belonging to 25 species in 146 days. It is not impossible that the enlargement of trade in non-timber forest products has reduced the amount of shifting cultivation also practised by some Orang Asli people, some of whom relied much more heavily on swidden rice in the past than they seem to do today (e.g. Westerhout, 1848).

Indeed, few forest people live by subsistence alone. Penan and other huntergatherer groups have long traded with their farming neighbours (Sellato, 1989). The Orang Asli have collected every product for which a market has existed among Malay and Chinese people, including gums and resins, medicinal plants, and rattan. Rambo (1988: 281) remarks that "it can plausibly be argued [of the Semang] that their way of life, far from being a survival from ancient pre-agricultural times, represents a modern adaptation to the niche created by the trade in forest products." In inland Sarawak, the sale of forest products - damar resin, gutta percha, rattan and camphor, illipe nuts, and bezaor stone,8 among others - was still the principal means of earning cash until the late 1950s. A number of examples of overexploitation of limited resources can be traced in the record, especially of gutta percha, which was in high demand around the turn of the twentieth century. A boom in the price of camphor (Dryobalanops sp.) in the Tinjar region of Sarawak led to overexploitation, and subsequent shortage, as recently as the early 1980s (Lien, 1987: 71). In Kalimantan, excessive utilization has resulted in the neardisappearance of the scented wood gaharu (found in the diseased heart of some species of Aquilaria) since the mid-1980s, even small saplings being destroyed before they have a chance to set seed. It should be added that traders, rather than collectors, have been the main beneficiaries in financial terms.

As numbers have grown, and perhaps more importantly as people have concentrated in areas closer to their trading partners, shortages of wild food have arisen. For both these reasons, food shortages among Penan preceded logging by some years, and the problem has been exacerbated by land sales from Penan to other groups (Lien, 1993). Since the 1950s, many Penan have settled in fixed villages and adopted shifting cultivation. Kavanagh, Abdullah, and Hails (1989), following a State Planning Department report of 1987, agree that few Penan are still wholly nomadic, but say that up to 70 per cent still spend a part of each year hunting and gathering, away from the shiftingcultivation settlements.

The effect of clearance and logging

The effect of development, and of logging in particular, has been profound. Hood Salleh (pers. comm.) has produced film showing the damage done to the livelihood of Senoi people, and to the ecology, at Tasek Bera in the Peninsula, following clearance of most of the surrounding land for oil-palm. With little record, several Orang Asli groups have been evicted from their habitat in the course of the conversion of forest to agriculture. However, Orang Asli have also made use of new commercial opportunities, and have preserved diversity, complexity, and adaptability in their economies by so doing (Gomes, 1989; Hood Salleh, 1989). Similarly, many Penan are now engaged in commercial pursuits, and only the older generations continue to cherish the traditional way of life (Langub, 1992). Lian (1993) argues that the widely publicized conflict between Penan, other forest groups, and the timber companies owes as much to maldistribution of the rewards from forestry as to the disruption of resources on which people depend for existence. None the less, it can still be written that "the livelihood of the Penan, as a nomadic people living in harmony with the environment, was being threatened" (Laird, 1991: 7). Lian's former colleagues at Universiti Brunei Darussalam also seem to accept the environmentalists' argument in a book published while this chapter was already in draft (Cleary and Eaton, 1992: 178-189).

Shifting cultivators and land tenure

A major problem facing shifting cultivators is that few of them have legal title to any or most of the land that they use. This is common in South-East Asia, where shifting cultivation has been frowned upon as wasteful of resources from the earliest days of formal land title registration. In Kalimantan most shifting cultivators are regarded as squatters on government land. When their lands are categorized by the official forest classification, 5 per cent are found to be in protection forest, or nature reserves, while 34 per cent are in production forest. The rest are in conversion or unclassed forest, destined eventually for non-forest use and therefore - at least on first principles- less likely to be the cause of concern (Weinstock, 1990). By definition, it is illegal for settlements to exist in protected forest, so people whose village lands fall within that boundary face problems, and will be pressured to resettle (Potter, 1990). For example, people living around the Riam Kanan dam in South Kalimantan are under that kind of pressure, even though their land - though designated "protection forest" - is mostly under Imperata cylindrica grass. Villagers have already been moved once when the dam was under construction, and in 1992 were resisting further relocation. In other parks and protected areas, however, settlements have persisted for many years, seemingly with impunity. One Bugis village inside Kutai National Park visited by Potter in 1990 had been established for 15 years.

More important (because much more land is involved) are the settlements within production forest, most of which is under logging concession and being actively exploited. Relations between logging companies and the indigenous villagers within their boundaries have often been tense, particularly as villagers' rights to planted fruit or illipe nut trees, or rattans growing in fallow areas, are often not acknowledged (Mayer, 1988; Potter, 1991). Vargas (1985) suggests that loggers commonly pay compensation for trees but not for annual crops; however, compensation for crops has been paid in some areas (Lien, 1987).9

The Indonesian government has begun a new programme in an attempt to improve relations between concessionaires and forest villagers, and the World Bank and some national aid projects are exploring ways by which forestry law might be changed to increase the participation of forest-dwelling peoples in forest land-use policy, planning, and management (C. Zerner, pers. comm.). This is as yet far from becoming policy, however, and the programme has not yet established any innovative strategies.

In Sabah, uniquely in this region, there has never been a problem. There are no restrictions on claims for native customary land, and access to land is easy for people who are only partially of Sabahan descent and even for other "Malaya," which includes both Indonesians and Filipinos. If the head of a village agrees, anyone in these categories may settle, clear land, and apply for title, which is quite readily granted. A number of immigrant forest and plantation workers have been able to take advantage of these provisions, and some who came in as labourers have bought land. However, changes may be in store owing to growing concern in Sabah over the massive dependence on immigrant labour, discussed in chapter 5 (J. Payne, pers. comm.).

In Sarawak on the other hand, where the sharpest conflicts have arisen, tenurial systems have been framed to deny title to land used for shifting cultivation since the Brooke period. The 1958 Land Code, revised from that initiated under the Brooke regime, is based on a Land Classification Ordinance of 1949. Only small areas defined as "Native Area Land" could be alienated, but the Code also defined larger areas of "Native Customary Land," in effect those occupied and used before 1958. In the "Interior Area" lying beyond these categories, together with reserve areas and the small amount of fully alienable "Mixed Zone Land," the state retained total rights. However, by a 1974 amendment, native customary rights could be extinguished if the land was required for "public purposes" or to facilitate alienation. All deep-inland areas were covered by this new provision, the only excluded areas being within "Native Area Land," none of which is far from the coast (Chin, 1985: 68-73).

Only some 15 per cent of all land in Sarawak has registered title (Cramb and Dixon, 1988). Little of this belongs to shifting cultivators, but an estimated 25 per cent, and in fact more, is claimed as customary land by these people. Chin (1985: 17-18) records the request of two villages on the Baram for a communal reserve, as the timber industry advanced upstream toward them. He thought it was unlikely that it would be granted and, until 1992, there have been no such reserves anywhere. However, the quasi-recognized "Native Customary Land" consists mainly of strips of varying width along the river banks, and this has been important since it gives shifting cultivators the means to charge timber companies rent in order to have access to this land and establish timber yards and rafting points. Some contractors also pay substantial compensation for access to customary land to which there is no legal title, and for damage to useful trees in such land in order to maintain the cooperation of the riverbank holders (Lien, 1987: 189). Conflicts and disagreements are, however, as common as good relations (Hurst, 1990; ITTC, 1990).

Shifting cultivators and the timber industry

The timber industry is not only in competition with shifting cultivators for the forest, it is also an important source of income and employment. In both the Peninsula and Sarawak all but a few of the contractors in the timber industry, and the majority of timber workers, are of Chinese origin and come from outside the forest. In Sabah, while the contractors may be Chinese, most of the labourers are Indonesian. In Kalimantan the Chinese element is much less significant. None the less, in most areas, indigenous people do have a share of the available employment, although many leave their work for a time each year to return to their farms and make new swiddens. Off-farm employment, overwhelmingly in the timber industry, absorbs most of the time of many males in one heavily logged area of Sarawak (Morrison, 1992). In one timber camp in the Tinjar valley in 1985, 28 per cent of the workforce was locally recruited, and 96 men from four villages, with a total of 71 households, were at work in the industry (Lien, 1987: 184). The great majority of these were in the lowest-paid category but, nevertheless, the cash incomes were unprecedentedly high and made possible major changes in lifestyle and in social stratification. Mayer (1988) reports that Dayaks in East Kalimantan were able to obtain only casual work, management arguing that local people had too many distractions with their own obligations. This is also reported from both Sarawak and Sabah (Chandler, 1987). In one district of Central Kalimantan, 44 per cent of the timber company workforce was hired locally, although not necessarily from people in the immediate vicinity (Curran and Kusneti, 1992). It is fair to say that, in all areas, the majority of workers are hired from a distance.

This has significant effects on the gender composition of the population as a whole in those sparsely populated inland areas where the timber industry is mainly concentrated.10 The 1991 census (Jabatan Perangkaan Malaysia, 1992a) shows that in several sub-districts of eastern Sarawak there were over 120 males per 100 females, and in Belaga sub-district, at the head of the Rejang system, there were no fewer than 173 males per 100 females. In central Sabah, the main timber area of the state, the ratio was 143 males per 100 females in Kinabatangan district. Relatively high male/female ratios, but not of the same order as in the Sarawak inland, are also encountered in parts of inland East Kalimantan. In Kalimantan, however, many of the small-time illegal loggers are indigenous people (Potter, 1988). This is particularly so since the cancellation of the Forest Products Collection Right (HPHH), which had allowed local people to fell timber and collect forest products for their own use. The reason for cancellation was, at least ostensibly, abuses under which local people were in fact supplying contractors.

As yet, not many of the Dayak and other indigenous people of Borneo work in the towns and factories; the main exceptions are the small inland settlements, where they sometimes predominate. In the larger towns they are mainly in the government sector, and factory employment is dominated by Malays, Banjarese, and immigrants from other regions or, in Malaysian Borneo, other countries. In the Peninsula, Orang Asli who move to town become indistinguishable from the Malay population, often adopting Islam.

It is certain that by no means all the indigenous people who work in the timber industry, as casual employees or less frequently as entrepreneurs, are reckoned among the workforce of the industry. Those who serve the timber industry by running small shops or transporting timber workers in their boats, and who derive compensation from contractors for use of their land, are even less likely to be counted. Collectively, however, incomes from timber are now an important part of the life-support system of indigenes in many parts of Borneo, and also in a few areas of the Peninsula.

The disappearance of these incomes will not, as it will with many of the workers from outside, be accompanied by the departure of the people. Although a significant drift of young people to the towns must be anticipated, the loss of local incomes from timber is likely to be the occasion for major changes in the system of livelihood. Certain groups are already contemplating resettlement for cash-crop cultivation (F. Lian, pers. comm.), but the full nature of these changes cannot yet even be guessed. Much will depend on the success of plantation forestry, now being vigorously pressed in Kalimantan and Sabah, as we saw in chapter 5. Employees work on a subcontract basis and, in Kalimantan, a majority are drawn from among the transmigrants. At one plantation set up in 1984, and described by Mayer (1989), only 5 per cent of workers came from local Dayak communities. 11

Land and forest at risk?

The critics of shifting cultivators

Since the advent of the timber industry, the long-standing criticism of shifting cultivation as a system has taken on a new dimension and, at the very time that its defenders have become numerous, the criticisms have reached new levels of hostility. There are three main prongs to the complaint. Shifting cultivators are, by wide agreement, poor. On the basis of an income definition, discussed in more detail in chapter 10, a 1989 survey showed 34 per cent of the population of Sabah and 21 per cent of that of Sarawak as poor (Government of Malaysia, 1991a). Most poor households are rural in both states. With the stated aim of reducing poverty, the government of Sarawak has sought for over 20 years to resettle shifting cultivators in managed cash-crop blocks. King (1988) reports his own estimate that 40 per cent of Sarawak's population live below the poverty line, overwhelmingly in rural areas. In South Kalimantan the poorest people, in terms of the income available from all sources, seem to be in the most crowded rural areas and the tidal swamps. These people are not shifting cultivators, but then there are not many shifting cultivators in that small province. It is certain that there are many poor people in the rural areas of the other three provinces of Kalimantan who are indeed shifting cultivators. Their income is likely to vary greatly from year to year depending on the availability and price of other sources, such as particular forest products or small-scale mining.

Allied to the question of poverty is the complaint that shifting cultivation offers only low and uncertain productivity. The argument is an old one, but is supported by the nutritional studies of A. J. U. Anderson (1978, 1980). These suggested that only a few months'self sufficiency is provided by swiddengrown rice. We briefly examined some evidence above, and Chin (1985), Lian (1987), and Cramb (1989a, 1993) all question the alleged lack of selfsufficiency in basic foods, more so when cultivated foods supplementary to rice are taken into account. A considerable amount of food is also obtained from the fallow.

Burning down the forest?

The foresters' argument is that shifting cultivation annually consumes large areas of primary forest, which could better be used to earn export income. The locus classicus is a paper by Lau (1979: 419), in which it is stated that, for every tree profitably logged, another "goes up in smoke." This view has become orthodoxy, but critics have argued that Lau's estimate was based on erroneous data concerning the area under shifting cultivation at any one time. They have shown that in specific cases only quite small areas of primary forest are used, most swiddens being made in secondary growth of from 7 to 20 years (Hong, 1987; Lian, 1987; Sather, 1990). Cramb (1990) has produced data purporting to show that shifting cultivators annually increase the area cut by only 0.2 per cent, about as much as is logged each week. In a fairly lightly peopled area of southern West Kalimantan, however, Helliwell (1990: 53-54) clearly implies that a significant proportion of clearings are made each year in primary rather than secondary forest, and the labour requirements and timing are distinctively different in these gardens. The debate continues, and the evidence remains equivocal. No resolution is in sight.

Creation of grasslands and "critical lands"

The most crucial argument, however, is that the system is extremely destructive of natural resources as a whole. This view has an extensive literature, spearheaded in Sarawak by Freeman (1955), and challenged by a number of writers including Padoch (1982a, 1982b), Chin (1985), Lian (1987), Cramb (1989b), Sather (1990), and others. Much seems to depend on the area described by particular writers for, as we saw above, there is great variation in the resilience of the soils and forest under interference. There are, however, grasslands created by shifting cultivation, and there still is destruction. In describing what seems to be an extreme case, the authors of one RePPProT study in West Kalimantan warn that:

Pioneering shifting cultivation penetrates far into the ... forest areas and threatens to fragment and consume all remaining non-swampland lowland forests in the short to medium term. (RePPProT, 1987b, I: 30)

In Kalimantan, watersheds in which soil erosion has become severe are designated "critical land" (Tanah Kritis). A recent estimate by the Worldwide Fund for Nature of 20 million ha of such land for the whole of Indonesia has been reduced to 13 million by reforestation and rehabilitation work carried out, mainly in Java, by the Ministry of Forestry (MOF/FAO, 1991). These new studies resulted in an upward revision of critical lands in Kalimantan to almost 3 million ha, or 23 per cent of the total area - two-thirds of these lands being in West and Central Kalimantan (Statistik Indonesia, 1990). Later revisions have halved the area, making the whole exercise somewhat less than credible. In West Kalimantan the main problem area is said to lie in the hilly districts north of the Kapuas River. The RePPProT report describes "large areas of barren land" in this region. A further statement is more explicit:

Very steep ridge systems of the Western Plains and Mountains and the Middle Kapuas Basin have been degraded to grassland and scrub by overintensive shifting cultivation. The erosion of these areas is excessive. Present reforestation activities should concentrate on these areas first. (RePPProT, 1987b: 38)

The southern part of this zone is quite closely peopled, though it does contain some extensive stretches of Imperata grassland. The northern part is less wellpopulated and was, for decades or more, subject to raids by Iban and related people from the north. Grassland and forest intermingle. It is of interest to note that the areas with the widest extent of grassland in West Kalimantan are not the areas mentioned above, although there are indeed patches of alangalang (Imperata) occurring there (see chap. 9). In the western part is an area in which some of the pressure might have come from Chinese cultivators moving inland from the Sambas gold fields in the nineteenth century; a considerable number settled in the northern lower Kapuas valley. There are also degraded areas in western and central Sarawak, often on soils of poor quality, which may apply to parts of West Kalimantan. Recommendations regarding reforestation of degraded grasslands are also made for steep ridge systems in the Meratus mountain foothills of south-east Kalimantan, which are also said to be eroding excessively as a result of shifting cultivation (RePPProT, 1987a: 15). These latter areas are further discussed in chapter 9.

Toward an assessment

In approaching an assessment of the contribution of shifting cultivators to environmental degradation we need to recall the historical material discussed in chapter 2. There is strong presumptive evidence that, between one and three centuries ago, and perhaps earlier, there were many more people in parts of inland Borneo than there are today. Conversely, some present areas carry higher populations than in historical times. Some coastal areas too, especially in Sabah, became depopulated owing to the depredations of pirates. Although some inland areas of Imperata grassland, of which there are a number in parts of Borneo, may owe their origins to heavy cultivation in this earlier period, the evidence of higher population in the past also relates to areas that are now forest. These latter areas, or such of them as have not been logged, are now clothed in what looks superficially like primary forest, but in fact differs considerably in timber content from place to place. Many of the 104 concessions in East Kalimantan let between 1967 and 1984 were found to contain areas bare of the high-quality old-growth woods that were the principal merchantable species until lately (Brookfield et al., 1990: 502). This might, as suggested in chapter 1, be due to ecological differences, or even to the consequences of past fires, but it might also bear relation to occupation history.

We also need to note that cultivation systems themselves differ from place to place, and probably have done so from time to time. However, it does seem likely that substantial areas worked over by shifting cultivators in the past returned to mature forest once the pressure was relaxed for a sufficiently long period. This consideration should temper some of the criticism of shifting cultivators, and even dare one say - of loggers. None the less, assessment of the present situation has to take account of increasing pressure, both from population growth and, in significant areas, also from the demands of cashcropping. Moreover, "new" shifting cultivators are now in the Borneo forests, principally in East Kalimantan, paralleling in some measure what "new" shifting cultivators growing cassava and gambier did in the western Peninsula in the nineteenth century. There may, however, be fewer of these than the emphasis placed on them in parts of the literature (e.g. Kartawinata and Vayda, 1984) has led many writers to believe.

The question of the ecological consequences of shifting cultivation is complex. The effects depend not only on the length of the fallow period and hence on population pressure but also, and importantly, on soil, climate, and slope. On poor soils only a meagre forest recovers, even over a long time. When dry weather is prolonged, fire used to make swiddens close to the end of the dry period can more readily escape into the forest, and especially into secondary forest where it kills saplings. The convection created by fires leads them up slopes, and they are fired to take advantage of this assistance. Once grassland is created on hills, it can therefore persist and slowly extend by repeated burning. Large clearings recover much less readily than small clearings, where seed sources are close at hand. There is no doubt that such damage occurs. Its scale, however, varies greatly, and the chances of recovery are much lower where transformation is taking place over large areas. Among present changes, those leading to large clearings for commercial crops, especially in areas liable to drought, are the most likely to lead to degradation. On the other hand, trends toward agro-forestry making productive use of the fallow are far more likely to lead to improvement. Both trends are present in the region, and the future could go either or both ways. Chapter 9 will take this discussion further.

The future

Government policy and the forest people

Whatever the defence of the system in its classic form, there is a real problem when numbers increase and when commercial field crops, as opposed to tree crops, are grown on a large scale in swiddens. Unfortunately, most present solutions involve resettlement and a complete change, rather than adaptation, of farming methods. In Sarawak, two government authorities, first the Sarawak Land Development Board (SLDB) created to manage earlier initiatives in 1972, then the Sarawak Land Consolidation and Rehabilitation Authority (SALCRA) set up in 1976, have both had the object of establishing cash-crop blocks for tribal people. By 1985 some 12,000 ha had been developed by SALCRA, principally in demonstrably impoverished areas of western Sarawak (Hong, 1987). However, whereas SALCRA has mainly established cash-crop blocks on indigenous land, SLDB has created new settlement on the FELDA model, but without anything approaching the large investment and skilled supervisory staff of this Peninsular model. Cramb (1992) has assessed the results and finds them generally poor. He criticizes the whole model of topdown directed agricultural transformation and the official preference for "a more organized and estate-type approach" (Government of Malaysia, 1991b: 136). Hatch (1982) and King (1988) both earlier concluded that few schemes had been truly successful. None the less, a major expansion is now proposed, especially in the eastern regions made sensitive by conflicts with the logging industry (Government of Malaysia, 1991a).

The Indonesian authorities have been more determined than the Malaysians in moving indigenous people to what are seen as betterlocated sites, usually in forest designated for conversion to agriculture, where they can, supposedly, learn more intensive agriculture. East Kalimantan was formerly most active in promoting such resettlement schemes, mainly food-crop schemes resembling transmigration projects. These were criticized as culturally insensitive and often economically unviable (Appell and Appell-Warren, 1985; Avé and King, 1986). Indeed, many proved to be unviable, and the programme, in this form, has virtually ended. Dayaks have sometimes been absorbed into the newer tree-crop schemes, sometimes simply because their land has been taken over, but sometimes on a voluntary basis.12

Resettlement of the smaller number of forest-dwelling people in the Peninsula was first tried during the "emergency" of the communist rebellion, and it was a failure (Stubbs, However, although a specialized government department has been responsible for the Orang Asli since that time, it has had limited positive impact (Lien, 1993). For some, this has not caused harm. Most of the 40 per cent of Orang Asli who live close to the densely settled west coast region are integrated economically with the Malays and Chinese. They trade fruit and forest products and work outside, and their range of incomes is comparable with that of the rural Malays; in 1982 in one northwestern Peninsular community, 88 per cent of food consumed was purchased (Gomes, 1989).13 Many of the larger number in the centre and east have been affected by land development; a significant number have themselves been resettled, but with very mixed success (Hasan Mat Nor, 1989). Others have had to move from areas with good land resources to more marginal sites, and many depend heavily on welfare support (Nicholas, 1989; Sham Kasim, Zulkifli Ismail, and Lailanor Ibrahim, 1989). Already there is a high degree of integration with national society, but across a wide range of economic and welfare conditions. Neither official nor academic research has really captured the full complexities of the situation, which is regrettable because of its potential implications for other tribal people in the region (Hood Salleh and Seguin, 1983; Benjamin, 1989).

Constraints on the future

The central problem is simply stated. The forest people of Borneo and the Peninsula are a small minority whose demand for land extends over a disproportionately large area. In the conditions of the 1960s, it was a not unreasonable decision on the part of the two national governments to take forest areas to resettle considerable numbers of poorer villagers from the national heartlands in the eastern Peninsula and Kalimantan. In principle, though not in practice, it was also by no means unreasonable to encourage large-scale timber extraction from the forests and, later, to develop a vertically integrated industrial system based on forest wood. These two decisions inevitably affected the forest people and, as we have seen above, only some of the consequences have been wholly adverse. The manner in which the conflict over resources has been managed, or not managed, is another question.

By the early 1990s, almost none of the forest people remain even partly out of contact with the new economy. Since the majority have traded forest products with the outside world for at least 1,000 years, many have been able to adapt quite successfully to the new conditions, taking advantage of opportunities. Only in the deep interior were there still, in the early 1980s, small groups who practiced a wellintegrated subsistence economy with minimal dependence on trade and employment. It now seems that, in the 1990s, the pressure to obtain more land for resettlement by outsiders may, at least for a time, become relaxed while, on the other hand, even a bettermanaged timber extraction will extend to reach its economic limits. These pressures will penetrate still further into the interior as roads continue to be built. A significant part of the Kalimantan interior may remain beyond these limits by the year 2000, but very little that is not preserved by enforced regulation will lie beyond them in any part of Malaysia.

Wider appreciation of the ecological merits of shifting cultivation as a system is not, therefore, likely to preserve it from change. Nor is a slowly growing recognition of minority rights likely to conserve subsistence ways of life. Two reserves and part of a national park have been made available to the Penan of Sarawak, in response to the huge international pressure. However, how far these will be used to preserve a nomadic hunter-gatherer economy remains to be seen.

The demographic and economic conditions of sustainable shifting cultivation are rigid (Lien, 1993). They include low population density and only very limited arable cash-cropping; they will increasingly be breached. Moreover, when timber income declines, continued satisfaction of needs and aspirations is unlikely to be met by a return to principal dependence on shifting cultivation of food crops. Demand for continued participation in the cash economy is therefore likely to intersect with outside pressures for change, both leading toward a restructured rural production system.

Criticality, or crisis of adaptation?

The contribution of shifting cultivation, both in the past and now, to environmental degradation is smaller than that of the modern timber industry, but it is a contribution none the less. It is desirable that sustainable resource management more capable of coping with a range of demographic and economic conditions be devised, and applied. The trends toward forms of complex agro-forestry, noted in several places above, are encouraging, and so are the elements of semi-permanent cultivation already forming part of several agroecosystems in Borneo. It is to be hoped that these, rather than culturally undiscriminating systems of well laid out treecropping, can be adopted in a climate - internationally, more than nationally of growing awareness of the rights and aspirations of national minorities. Further, a need exists to appreciate better the considerable diversity of natural environment in the forests, especially in regard to soils. Planning of the future is beginning to take place in consultation with at least some indigenous groups, who have awareness of these variables. There is, however, a very long way to go; contempt for the "primitives" and their ways is very far from dead.

If the present highly variable situation among the forest people evolves, over the coming decade, into a situation of widespread criticality both for themselves and for the forest lands, it will be only partly from internal causes. Shifting cultivation, as Lian (1987,1993) repeatedly insists, is not itself central to the culture of the forest peoples. What is central is their need for rice, for goods obtainable by trade or wages, and for access to these under their own control. Forest people are certainly capable of making ecologically damaging changes to their production system but, if given security and respect, they are far more likely to make sensible and more sustainable adaptations. The greatest threat is a continuation of past neglect of their right to a distinctive place in the two national societies, and of pressures to assimilate them forcibly into the majority while taking control of their resources for exploitative gain. In Indonesia and Malaysia, as in Thailand, Viet Nam, and the Philippines also, there is a small but encouraging trend toward a new and more participatory approach, but it will have to develop fast, and work its way through a formidable set of institutional, ethical, and commercial barriers, if an endangerment approaching criticality is to be avoided. Ten years hence we shall either see the forest people participating in the development of their own region, along with others, or else see them truly reduced to the status of an impoverished and abused minority. They will adapt even to this, but so much more could be achieved if their rights are respected and their cooperation secured by policies of a different sort from those that have prevailed almost to the present day.


1. Christine Padoch, New York Botanical Garden, has been generous with information toward this chapter, and with helpful comment on an earlier drain.

2. The terms "shifting cultivation," "slash-and-burn," and "swidden farming" are synonymous in most of the literature. "Swidden," derived from an old north European word for a burnt field, is widely accepted. However, not all shifting simply slash and burn, and not all fields are burned. In this chapter we sometimes use "swidden" where appropriate to describe fields created with the aid of fire, but otherwise use "shifting cultivation." Though this is an imprecise and inadequate term, as discussed below, it does convey one essential element, that of land rotation. We do not use "slashand-burn" at all.

3. According to different sources, not detailed here, the elements that most swiftly become deficient to food plants are in some cases nitrogen, in others phosphorus or potassium. Possibly, different natural soil conditions are involved in these studies, which are widely scattered throughout the tropics.

4. This excludes the Malay Banjarese, who have been in South Kalimantan since medieval times and have since spread more widely. They are never described as "Dayaks." The Banjarese are still the largest single ethno-linguistic group in Borneo. A significant minority among them do practice shifting cultivation.

5. This may not last. In some areas of West Kalimantan the World Bank is now supporting the extensive planting of monocrop rubber at the expense of secondary forest, grass, and even some residual primary forest, on gentle and steep slopes alike. It will replace swidden, of which there is now not much. Since these communities also grow wet rice, the pattern of the future is presumably envisaged as a set of rice and rubber communities - like the Peninsular Malaysia villages that are the main locus of persistent rural poverty in that wealthy country, or the Hulu Sungai, which contains several pockets of severe poverty.

6. Visiting this village in 1992, Brookfield was treated by the shaman for a sprained wrist. The shaman used up to 44 herbs, collected from the managed forest, secondary forest, and the small remnant of primary forest. The treatment was effective in eliminating pain and swelling in a single night.

7. The other years were very probably 1965 and 1972, in both of which ENSO events gave rise to quite severe drought in western Borneo, having more effect on human occupation there than in regions more normally affected by drought.

8. Stones found in the gall bladders of two species of monkey, widely used for medical purposes, especially by Chinese.

9. Mayer (1988) reports on the gentian Dayak community, about 7,500 people living in eight villages along the border of Central and East Kalimantan. They have been involved in arguments with the Kutai regional authorities and East Kalimantan provincial government over their efforts to secure titles to their lands, which they have long worked under adat (customary) law. Five logging concessions operate in their area on a total of 90,000 ha and there have been many disputes, including the bulldozing of a rattan forest by one company, with no compensation being offered. Recent establishment of a plantation forest (HTI) on some of the land has further restricted peoples' traditional farming activities, although providing one day's work per week. The people want their land back and, forming an organization through the traditional adat group, demanded dialogue with the regional and provincial authorities. Although a hearing of their complaints was held through a special commission from the East Kalimantan parliament, no action was immediately taken. In the eyes of the government, the people have no legal rights to the land; government sources favour commercial tree plantation development in the area (IHRF, 1992).

10. Unfortunately, data on ethnic breakdown were not yet available at the time of writing.

11. Forest plantation work is unpopular, hence the heavy recruitment of transmigrants. There have been some complaints by "human rights" activists about the nature of this recruitment and employment.

12. There are always places reserved for locals in transmigration schemes, in order partly to dampen accusations of favouritism towards Javanese and other newcomers. After a few years, some of these resettlement projects are simply abandoned and the people drift back to their old lands; the government-provided houses have sometimes then been re-used for transmigrants.

13. Similarly, in 1986,10 Orang Asli households living in a Malay reservation in a forest-girt valley east of Kuala Lumpur had mean income and expenditure levels closely comparable with the means of the whole 136 households in the valley, with a higher proportion derived from farm sources; they worked closely with Chinese ginger farmers in the forests behind the reservation (Brookfield, Samad Hadi, and Zaharah Mahmud, 1991:154-155).

The issue as presented: Criticality of global concern

An alleged major contributor to greenhouse gas emissions

At the UNCED meeting in Rio de Janeiro in 1992, and in the preparatory discussions for that meeting, tropical deforestation was among the most hotly debated questions.) The "non-legally binding authoritative statement" adopted the product of compromise drew attention to the "vital role of all types of forests in maintaining the ecological processes and balance at the local, national, regional and global levels" (United Nations, 1993: 292). Chapter 11 of Agenda 21 noted at paragraph 11 that "the present situation calls for urgent and consistent action for conserving and sustaining forest resources" (ibid.: 90). The reasons are suggested but not analysed. These were mild words by comparison with much of the "green" literature on the clearance and degradation of tropical rain forests and the associated erosion and loss of biodiversity. The biodiversity issue has been addressed in chapter 4.

A still more serious problem for the world as a whole is, however, raised by the now widely accepted contribution of tropical deforestation to global warming. It is principally from this cause that Indonesia is now calculated to rank ninth among all countries in total greenhouse gas emissions, contributing 2.4 per cent of the world total. Of this, 78 per cent is calculated as due to biomass reduction and consumption, together with agriculture (principally methane), and 22 per cent from fossil fuel combustion (Foundation for Research and

Industrial Affiliation, 1991; Petrich, 1993). Although the contribution of Malaysia is smaller, it ranks well above that of Indonesia on a per capita basis. At this scale, Borneo and the Peninsula constitute a truly critical environmental zone for all of humankind, and the issue thus demands consideration in this book.

Tropical deforestation and greenhouse gas emissions

Although the role of forests as a major sink in the global carbon cycle has been known for as long as bio-geochemical cycles have been understood, the climatic effect of tropical deforestation is a fairly new issue. It is now estimated that, before the twentieth century, temperate deforestation and soil disturbance were the largest contributors of CO2 into the atmosphere, after which their significance was overtaken by the rapid increase in fossil fuel consumption. About mid-twentieth century, tropical deforestation began to exceed that in temperate lands (R. A. Houghton, 1990a, 1990b). By the most authoritative of a range of estimates, it is now calculated that emissions from forest clearance contribute up to two-sevenths of total anthropogenic input into the global cycle (J. T. Houghton, Jenkins, and Ephraims, 1990: xxxii, 1016).2 Small amounts of methane and nitrous oxide are also released into the atmosphere by forest burning or decay, together with some non-greenhouse gases.

However, the possibility that tropical deforestation might be a major contributor of greenhouse gases was not seriously suggested until the late 1970s (Woodwell and Houghton, 1977). Before this time, few others who expressed growing concern at the observed increase in atmospheric CO2 made much of any input other than that of fossil fuels. As late as the mid-1980s the largest issues regarding the climatic effects of deforestation still concerned the debatable effect on global albedo or reflectivity (e.g. Henderson-Sellers and Gornitz, 1984; Jäger and Barry, 1990; R. A. Houghton and Skole, 1990). Loss of carbon-sink capacity - popularly, but erroneously, the oxygenproducing "lungs of the earth" - was a perceived problem well before emissions became the central cause for concern. The sink effect remains important in a less emotive context, as we shall see below.

The World Resources Institute and other estimates

Carbon flux from tropical deforestation has become a very major issue in recent years. In the late 1980s, Myers (1989a) produced an alarming set of revised estimates of global and especially tropical deforestion and drew sharp attention to the climatic consequences. However, prime place in bringing about wide public and official awareness must be attributed to the energetic research and publication programme of the World Resources Institute (WRI). In the mid-1980s, this body and other environmental organizations were reported to be seeking both new issues and more aggressive approaches (Thompson, 1985), and WRI was said to liken "the global deforcountries in the 1970s" (Clarke, 1985).3 Whether or not this is the case, WRI (1990) published a new apportionment of national responsibilities for greenhouse gas emissions, based on an index developed by Hammond, Rodenburg, and Moomaw (1991), in the run-up to the Rio UNCED conference. Giving substantial weight to current deforestation rates and to the methane fluxes from wet rice and livestock, it put three developing countries Brazil, China, and India among the first six. On a different basis, and with less public exposure, R. A. Houghton and Skole (1990: 399), using their own data together with those of Marland, Rotty, and Treat (1985), also found emission rates for carbon alone in parts of South-East Asia, South America, and West Africa to be in a comparable high class (over 100 tons/km²) with the east of North America, an industrial belt across Europe, north China, and Japan. The estimates are accepted in Indonesia (Foundation for Research and Industrial Affiliation, 1991).

The wide publicity given to the revised WRI estimates, and their air of seeming reliability, generated both alarm and hostility in developing countries, which had not expected to bear any major share in the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. On a per capita basis, their contribution was small by comparison with that of the older industrial countries, but the total as presented was much larger than anticipated. The conclusions, the WRI index itself, and the political implications drawn from its results were all contested with particular force by two Indian scientists, Agarwal and Narain (1991). The details of this debate are summarized, from both technical and political points of view, in a group of articles in Global Environmental Change (Ahuja, 1992; Brookfield, 1992; Jodha, 1992; Redclift, 1992; Zhao Songqiao, 1992) and will not be repeated here. It should merely be noted that estimates for wet-rice methane were extrapolated globally from studies in Italian rice fields, and that the deforestation estimates were criticized on grounds similar to those discussed elsewhere in this book. It was also argued that the WRI scientists combined good data with bad and lumped together both long-term and short-term contributions around the one reference year 1987, and their index itself was regarded as faulty.4 From our present point of view, however, we need to look behind the WRI estimates and take greater account of the scientific basis on which tropical deforestation has come to be regarded as a major contributor.

In less expert hands than those of the WRI scientists, tropical deforestation has become the most indefensible of all contributors of carbon fluxes, with important political consequences.5 The CO2 flux issue has been combined with biodiversity, concern over the fate of forest-dwelling people, and a more general unease over the extremely rapid rate of cutting to generate an almost worldwide opposition to further deforestation. As noted in chapter 5, this led by 1992 to a stage at which partial or complete bans on the import of tropical timber were beginning to be imposed or threatened by national governments. "Eco-labelling" is more widely demanded by environmental activists, might become policy in at least the European Union, and is being taken very seriously in Indonesia and Malaysia. We refrain from expressing an opinion on this development as a whole, but go on to examine, for soundness, the part of the conservationist argument that depends on greenhouse gas emissions from tropical deforestation.

Research on carbon dioxide emissions from tropical deforestation

Reasons for uncertainty

Three main elements are involved in the estimation of potential CO2 emissions.6 First is estimation of change in the forest area and its rate, which is difficult because there are still few good inventories, and satellite imagery has only now begun to yield reliable data. Second is calculation of forest biomass, which requires extrapolation from small-area surveys, or simply estimation. Third is evaluation of the effects of interference other than complete conversion to non-forest uses, that is, of shifting cultivation and logging. This last element is complicated by uncertainty over the net effect of initial destruction and subsequent recovery during which new growth takes up carbon at a far higher rate than in dynamically stable forest; there is also the need to take account of carbon removed but not destroyed, in the form of wood products.

Initial calculations were based on net land-use change alone, arising from conversion to agriculture or grassland. Good work, especially coming from the Woods Hole Research Institute in the United States, quickly eliminated some early wild estimates. One influential set yielded a carbon release from the nonfallow forests in the Asian tropics equal to only 7 per cent of that from global fossil fuel consumption (R. A. Houghton et al., 1985). However, there remains a wide range in the calculated results, none of which can be regarded as definitive, so that the effect of all tropical land-use change, globally, can still be estimated at somewhere between 8 and 47 per cent of carbon flux from fossil fuel consumption (Brown, Gillespie, and Lugo, 1991). The Scientific Assessment report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (J. T. Houghton, Jenkins, and Ephraims, 1990: 11) notes this uncertainty in the estimates, and opts for a value close to the mid-point, with a very much larger error range than for release due to fossil fuel emissions (p. 13). However, in discussing reasons for the unexplained imbalance in the carbon cycle (p. 17), they note, as a possible alternative to the presence of additional sequestering process or capacities in the ocean and biosphere, that "the amount of CO2 released from tropical deforestation [might be] at the low end of current estimates." Although the subsequent trend of estimates from tropical deforestation is upward, nothing definitive has yet been established.

A further question of major importance concerns the rates of deforestation employed in calculations. The revisions made by the World Resources Institute are said to be based on satellite information, and thus are presumably a major improvement on all others, including those of Myers (1989a), which do not rely on this source of data. However, satellite imagery data are criticized as full of "ambiguities and impossibilities" by Blasco and Achard (1990), specifically in the context of the South-East Asian region, where they discuss the problems in some detail. We have seen above how uncertain the estimates are in Borneo. On the other hand, the Peninsula has perhaps the most reliable data on change through time to be found in any part of the humid tropics, based on two national forest inventories carried out around 1970-1972 and 1980-1981 (FAO, 1973; Unit Pengurusan Hutan, 1982). These data have been employed in what is perhaps the best work done up to the early 1990s.

Scientific progress

The carbon content of wood is a fairly constant 45 per cent of biomass, but the biomass of wood of a given volume is substantially affected by its density. If it could be measured for different dates, then any reduction would accurately represent loss of carbon stocks on the site. In the case of complete clearance this often represents almost total loss to the atmosphere, either swiftly by fire or slowly by decay. For selective logging only a proportion of the carbon is lost on site or at the point of processing, much being removed elsewhere in wood form. Until the late 1980s the relevant data could be obtained only by guesswork and the use of averages, which yielded values with very large uncertainty factors (Woodwell et al., 1983; R. A. Houghton et al., 1985), but there has since been substantial progress toward more accurate estimation (Dale, Houghton, and Hall, 1991).

Brown, Gillespie, and Lugo (1989) found innovative ways of using forest inventory data - employing mean density values by species - to obtain biomass and hence carbon. There remain large problems in estimating volumes, since only breast-height diameter from a small proportion of trees is usually available, but with information on the species a much closer approximation becomes possible. Hall and Uhlig (1991) further revised biomass estimates by using the new expansion factors with data on commercial tree volumes per hectare for undisturbed, logged, unproductive, and managed forest. They applied the results to pan-tropical FAO data on land use in 1980, with a rather notional allowance for shifting cultivation, to obtain new estimates of carbon flux. The lack of better data on shifting cultivation reduces the value of these results.7

The role of forest degradation

Brown, Gillespie, and Lugo (1991) then made use of forest inventories throughout South and South-East Asia, and particularly of the two good national forest inventories of Peninsular Malaysia, further developing the method pioneered by themselves in 1989. They introduced the concept of "degraded" forest, meaning forest reduced in biomass from its original state, principally by logging or shifting cultivation. Comparing area and calculated biomass for different forest types on the Peninsula at the two dates, they found a statistically, highly significant reduction in mean biomass per hectare on the large area of logged hill forest and on the small extent of shifting-cultivation forest. Noting that degradation as well as decrease in the forest area imply loss of carbon, they derived a "degradation ratio" from the ratio of biomass lost to area lost, relative to the initial average biomass. For the Peninsula as a whole, where the forest area was reduced by 18 per cent over the decade and the biomass by 28 per cent, this ratio was 1.6.

This finding was then taken up by R. A. Houghton (1991), who used the less reliable long-term data on land-use change in tropical Asia collected by Flint and Richards (1991) and a set of hypotheses concerning the mixed use of high biomass and low biomass forests in a series of experiments for all tropical Asia run through time.8 The effect of including degradation factors was to raise the estimates of carbon flux since 1850 by from 25 to 110 per cent (the variation depending on biomass estimation), over and above that calculated on the basis of deforestation alone. Moreover, estimated degradation factors increase through time.

The new data on forest degradation add to the previously calculated contribution of South-East Asian and other tropical regions to global carbon flux, and more firmly establish the existence of a real and critical problem, though still of much smaller scale than that of fossil fuel emissions. This is the objective result of good work done with some of the best available data. Interpretation is another matter. R. A. Houghton (1991: 141) believes that sequestration of timber from destruction in the form of utilized wood is probably not more than 10 per cent in the tropical regions, where there are few incentives for efficiency in harvest and processing.9 This may be to overstate the actual position, at least where whole logs are removed and exported; it might be less of an overstatement with the highly inefficient manufacture of plywood. Also unclear is the real status of the degraded forests, many of which are full of vigorous young growth, of small timber volume but taking up carbon at a high rate. Moreover, a significant part of the land permanently cleared is under tree crops and, although these have small biomass by comparison with the forests they replace, their carbon storage is considerably greater than that of grassland and field crops. The effect of all this might be to reduce the estimates by not more than 15-25 per cent in their application to the South-East Asian region, but this amount of uncertainty has not yet been eliminated.

Evaluation of the scientific evidence

It seems to have been established that modern clearance and interference in the tropical forests have been significant contributors of carbon flux, and continue to be so. However, there is nothing like the firm quantification that can be given to the larger effect of burning fossil fuels. As Andresen and Wettestad (1992: 285) correctly observe in a different context: "it is highly questionable if any emissions other than fossil fuel CO2 are currently measurable and thus 'verifiable'." There are no measurements of fluxes, and everything depends on calculation, using increasingly sound methodology on very inadequate data.10 It none the less follows from the research results now obtained that greatly improved management, and reforestation, are in the highest degree desirable for the climatic reason alone, quite apart from the many other justifications for such change.

When this is said, however, the relative weight nowadays being given to tropical deforestation still seems to be more political than scientific. It remains more sound to criticize rapid destruction of the forests on the bases of biodiversity loss and of the very low price at which a long-term resource has been sold, thus greatly encouraging its consumption in temperate countries (Repetto, 1990). There is not the smallest room for doubt about the reckless waste of a resource created by centuries of natural growth, for limited and often shortterm gain. But this is not the only reason tropical deforestation is nowadays so fiercely attacked. It is hard to gainsay those who assert that some Western politicians, responding to and perhaps even manipulating their own environmental pressure groups, have used the tropical deforestation issue to divert attention away from the weak efforts until now made in most developed countries toward the massive reductions in emissions that are required by them.

Longer-term considerations

The prospect in the 1990s

There is some irony in the fact that pressure on tropical developing countries still with large forest resources has peaked at the time when, in most of them, the depredations made on these resources are quite sharply contracting. This is so in most of South-East Asia and also in Brazil. We have seen above that the demand for transmigrant and development land has diminished since the mid-1980s while, even in Sarawak and Kalimantan, belated (if still very inadequate) efforts are now being made to manage the remaining timber resource more economically and to avoid the fate that has already overtaken the timber industry in the Philippines, Thailand, and Sabah, and that is now imminent in the Peninsula and Viet Nam (Potter, 1993b). Although one consequence has been the spread of poorly managed forestry into Burma, Cambodia, Papua New Guinea, and the larger west Pacific islands, the regional trend is toward a much more restrained use of the timber resource and toward plantation forestry. Moreover, as costs rise owing to exhaustion of the old-growth resource, the balance of competitive advantage will shift back toward temperate and sub-boreal woods, at least for as long as an aroused public in the northern lands will permit their increased exploitation. Although pressure on the remaining forests and woodlands of the poor and densely peopled countries of south Asia and Africa shows no sign of diminishing, it is likely that in South-East Asia as a whole and in tropical Brazil the rate of biomass destruction and degradation has already dropped significantly from the levels encountered in the mid-1980s. We may expect it to decline further during the 1990s, even in the remaining pockets of gross overexploitation, and increasingly to be offset by biomass augmentation through forest planting and natural recovery.

By the end of the 1990s it is not unlikely that the real bases for greatest concern over greenhouse gas emissions from the region will have shifted to the unavoidable flux of methane from the rice fields and to the much more avoidable inputs from fossil fuel consumption in the heavily urbanized areas and their rural surroundings. Already in 1980, input levels from this source from areas including West Java, the southern Peninsula and Singapore, central Luzon, and central Thailand were in a broad class with the western United States and the urban-industrial areas of Australia, South Africa, Brazil, and Argentina (Marland, Rotty, and Treat, 1985; R. A. Houghton and Skole, 1990). Since 1980, there has certainly been a large further increase in atmospheric pollution from fossil fuel consumption in the burgeoning urban areas of the South-East Asian region.

There is a further consideration of importance. Both in Brazil and in SouthEast Asia, the onslaught on the forests did not become massive before 1965 and was already at least starting to diminish before 1990. During this same period, about half the much larger volume of carbon emissions from fossil fuels made globally since 1860 has entered the atmosphere (R. A. Houghton and Skole, 1990: 398).

The check in South-East Asian deforestation since the mid-1980s bears comparison with a sharp check in fossil-fuel consumption that took place in some advanced industrial countries a few years earlier, for which much credit is claimed in those countries. Both have had mainly economic rather than conservationist bases, and it is disturbing that neither has really done much to check the rate of greenhouse gas accumulation in the atmosphere.

National reactions and responses

The immediate reaction in South-East Asia, however, was one of serious concern regarding the implications of the new calculations for national development strategies and for relations with international and bilateral funding agencies. Although both Indonesia and Malaysia signed the global warming and biodiversity conventions at Rio de Janeiro, the international reaction has been to seek common ground with other developing countries in negotiations with the industrialized nations. For Indonesia, a rather tardy and weak-willed record in implementing other international environmental agreements signed in the past is detailed by Petrich (1993: 56-58). He concludes (p. 77):

The country currently has limited follow-through capacity: it has much of the requisite technical know-how in the resource protection area, but little of the political knowledge or the political will needed to take action.... Significant improvement over past performance is unlikely when the country's resources and attentions are focused elsewhere and spread so thinly. The fact that the projected effects of global climate change would exacerbate all the country's current problems probably carries little influence in the political dialogue.

A lot is, in fact, now known about these consequences, in both Indonesia and Malaysia, where some very thorough studies - using the available results of General Circulation Models - have been undertaken (Sham Sani and Chong, 1991; Sham Sani, 1993; de Rozari, 1993). Some evidence of warming is found in the regional data, and recent decades have exhibited high rainfall variability, but none of this can firmly be linked to secular climatic change. A bigger problem arises from the heat islands that have developed above growing cities and are still increasing. Sealevel is also equivocal, there being some evidence of a relative rise of the land in the Java Sea region that would reduce the projected net rise due to global warming. However, with large areas of both countries, but especially Indonesia, created only since completion of the Holocene marine transgression, vulnerability to sealevel change is as great as in any part of the world. Moreover, there are likely effects on crop yields, especially rice.

The problem, however, is that the large adaptations required if and when the predictions become reality will themselves become a major burden on the resources of two countries that are not yet "wealthy." It would, therefore, seem a reasonable national strategy to persist with policies intended to create greater national wealth even if these policies have some adverse consequences for the global climate. This is more so when the total regional contribution to causing climatic adversity is only a small proportion and unlikely to become very much more significant. It is even more the case when there is some real cause for doubt about the calculations on which present estimates of their contribution are based. None of this is to say that Indonesia and Malaysia are unaware of the need for better environmental management, but the reasons for improving management do not have a great deal to do with their international responsibilities; those of others are perceived, rightly, as being far greater.

Global warming in the long term

Agarwal and Narain (1991) and other critics of the WRI (1990) estimates are clearly right in pointing to the much larger and longer contribution of greenhouse gases made by the developed and industrial countries, compared with the developing countries. They are not, however, right in suggesting that the rising contribution of the developing countries can, for the time being, safely be ignored or traded away on some notional basis. Nor are the many others who have advanced the same argument. In the South-East Asian countries, land use and forestry will continue to make greenhouse gas inputs but, with the notable exception of methane from the rice fields, there are ways in which these can to some degree be managed. The real problem is the rising demand for energy as development and structural change continue their rapid progress in the region (Clark, 1993). In this respect, the South-East Asian countries are in the forefront of developing countries characterized by both increasing population and successful development strategies.

The problem, as Cline (1992: 21-22) points out in a rare study of global warming that looks beyond the simple doubling of atmospheric CO2 and equivalents, is that the major abundant energy source - coal - is also the worst from the greenhouse point of view. With the addi tion of smaller quantities of oil and gas, global coal resources available at reasonable present cost are sufficient to multiply atmospheric carbon concentrations to 5 or 10 times their present levels, far beyond doubling, and to go on doing this for another two or three centuries. Within South-East Asia, we have seen above that both Indonesia and Malaysia are now seriously examining their large coal resources in the light of an early shortage of oil. Moreover, the island of Borneo has a large percentage of these resources. By the second decade of the twenty-first century it is not improbable that the offshore gas and onshore coal of Borneo could make this island the major regional energy source and, indirectly, a far more certain source of carbon fluxes into the atmosphere than forest-clearing and timber-getting activities make it today.

If we look at the long term, therefore, the present- and probably already declining - atmospheric inputs from deforestation and forest degradation in this part of the humid tropics cease to look like the most significant problem. In the context of a debate about the coming two centuries of global warming, which is what the debate should be about, tropical deforestation at the rates experienced during the past 30 years is a contributor, but is not the major issue. The real problem is the rising energy demands of development and of the still fastgrowing global population. The further problem is that there is no present prospect that the rising energy demands of developing countries can be met without the use of a large low-cost resource that is a major contributor of greenhouse gases. If alternatives to this scenario are to be found, the time to begin looking for them is now. There is no case for turning a blind eye in the short term to the increasing atmospheric pollution coming from the developing countries, those of South-East Asia as much as any. But there is every case for looking at the real problem, rather than diverting an excessive proportion of attention to a lesser question over which there remains a great deal of uncertainty and on which there is much less than adequate or uptodate information.

The place of the Borneo and Peninsular forests in the management of greenhouse gas emissions

A temporary palliative or a means of aiding global management

No management would be able to cope with continued exponential growth in global greenhouse gas emissions, or with the large temper ature increases and consequent climatic changes that must inevitably follow after a lag period of still-undetermined length. Cline (1992: 22-26) marshals data suggesting that an eightfold increase in atmospheric CO2 by the year 2250 could create a commitment to a global mean increase of 10.7°C for the central case and 19.3°C for the upper bound. Whatever the reality, it would become so hot that there would be widespread species extinction and large parts of the world would become uninhabitable to the human race. If we assume that there will be a continued march toward such an outcome, then the carbon sequestration capacity of tropical biota becomes no more than a shortlived temporary palliative. If, on the other hand, we assume that fossil fuel outputs can and will be stabilized at some very much lower level, then there is a potentially important role for tropical areas of low population density in the process of amelioration and stabilization.

The high net primary productivity of the tropics might as a whole be enhanced by an increase in atmospheric CO2, although principally where favourable soil and water conditions exist to make greater growth possible, and hypothetically with lower biodiversity. All trees are C3 plants, although their degree of response to increased CO2 differs widely (Fajer and Bazzaz, 1992). However, as an accompaniment to large-scale steps to reduce energy dependence on fossil fuels inefficiently used, both the natural regrowth in cutover areas and planted forests could absorb significant quantities of carbon. R. A. Houghton (1990a, 1990b) shows how a complete halt to all tropical deforestation coupled with massive reforestation could, for a 20-30year period of rapid growth, absorb something like three-quarters of the late-1980s' annual emission due to fossil fuels.

This would not last, for an established forest would, if undisturbed, soon approach neutrality in regard to carbon emission and sequestration. This leads Houghton very boldly, if perhaps not very realistically, to suggest that managed forests, greatly enlarged from the present extent of remaining forest, be developed as an energy source in place of fossil fuel on a rapid regrowth cycle so as to become carbon-neutral. The problems in the way of such a solution are daunting, and he fears, not unreasonably, that "the world may have exceeded its capacity to produce a supply of energy that is both sustainable and renewable" (R. A. Houghton, 1990b: 421). Examining scenarios based on Houghton's findings, Bekkering (1992) however agreed that, although the contribution of reforestation to carbon sequestration is insignificant at present rates of planting, a larger programme could have a significant effect.

Conclusion: A place for managed forestry and agro-forestry?

We therefore have the seeming paradox that both forestry and shifting cultivation, if reconstructed on sound management lines, could be of positive benefit to a world that is bringing its new greenhouse gas emissions under control and seeks means of getting some of the emissions already in the atmosphere down into the biosphere where they will do good rather than harm. In other words, what is anathema to most of the world's conservationists today could, under attainable conditions, become of benefit to the whole global ecosystem and to the economy at the same time.

By themselves, Borneo and the Peninsula do not contain the available area to sequester more than a small part of the total CO2 in the atmosphere. Even so, Borneo has become the locus of an intriguing new development, that of utility companies in developed countries funding managed forestry and plantation forestry so as to offset their own carbon emissions and thus avoid proposed taxation (Vatikiotis, 1994). One company in the United States and the Netherlands Electricity Generating Board are funding the replanting of 3,500 ha in Sabah, and the company that is mediating these efforts has plans to get funding for replanting of 23,000 ha in Borneo as part of a global target of 150,000 ha. Proposals have also been made for international funding of an experimental, managed forestry area in the remaining concessions of the Sabah Foundation, as a design for wider adoption, and for support of the replanting efforts. In addition, there have even been proposals for international funding not to mine the coal underlying one particularly distinctive area of stillinaccessible forest. Although some people question the morality of funding lessprofitable managed forestry in the developing countries so that developedcountry utilities can continue polluting the atmosphere, the new "carbon credits" development might have a future in this region.


1. To a great degree this chapter discusses considerations affecting South-East Asia as a whole, and even the tropical developing countries as a vhole, rather than just Borneo and the Peninsula. This is necessary if the literature is to be used effectively and if a balanced set of conclusions is to be reached. However, the argument returns to the region in conclusion.

2. The addition of inputs from degradation without clearance, discussed below, would raise this proportion.

3. To write this is not to imply any lack of sincerity on the part of so respected a body as the WRI. However, such bodies do need issues that will bring in financial support from well heeled backers. In North America and Europe it is much easier to find support for combating tropical deforestation than for campaigning to change the energy-intensive lifestyles and economies of the developed countries themselves.

4. Thery(1992: 89) moreover notes that "Perhaps they found it opportune to merge the weight of past emission contributions by the OECD countries and the growing share contributed by the poor countries from the South in one 1987 index."

5. One example, in an "Ecoropa Information Sheet" reprinted in World Rainforest Movement (1992: 2), reads: "Forest burning in Brazil was responsible for about 20% of greenhouse gases released in 1988." Although scientific writers never commit such errors, they are frequently quoted out of context in the media. Asiaweek (25 November 1988), for example, quoted the director of the Goddard Institute for Space Studies on global warming solely in the context of tropical deforestation. This is far from an isolated example.

6. This section draws heavily on Brookfield (1992).

7. Until the late 1980s the carbon effect of shifting cultivation was generally treated as neutral, since regrowth in the fallow period sequesters about the amount of carbon released on clearance, though over a much longer period. However, increasing replacement of shifting cultivation by more permanent farming systems, together with reduction of fallow periods, requires an allowance to be made.

8. These estimates have since been refined by Richards and Flint (1994).

9. R. A. Houghton (1990b: 416) estimated 20 per cent.

10. It is possible to measure CO2 flux from soils in small sample areas enclosed under a cover; no ready means can be envisaged of measuring the flux from a forest.

(introductory text...)

droughts, fires, and el niño
greater detail on el niño-induced droughts in borneo

agro-climatic zones of borneo and the peninsula

the earliest comprehensive attempt to classify the climates of the indonesian region was that of mohr (1944) based on the ratio between the mean number of months with over 100 mm precipitation and those with under 60 mm. using data for each year, this was refined by schmidt and ferguson (1951), and later by fontanel and chantefort (1978), who defined a month as "dry" when its mean precipitation in millimetres was less than twice its mean temperature in degrees celsius. on the latter basis no part of borneo and only the far north-west of the peninsula have climates with dry seasons. however, using and extrapolating the system of schmidt and ferguson, whitmore (1984: 55) shows quite a broad belt along the eastern and southern coastal regions of borneo as also experiencing a weak dry season.

a different approach is adopted by oldeman, lal, and muladi (1980), who relate climatic classification to crop water requirements, particularly rice requirements. such a classification is also useful for indicating periods of possible moisture stress affecting forest growth. we discuss its application to borneo. they define a wet month as receiving more than 200 mm, but very wet areas, with over 400 mm in at least two consecutive months, are also delineated. dry months receive less than 100 mm, the critical minimum precipitation needed to exceed potential evapo-transpiration. using this indonesia-wide classification and mean monthly rainfall data for 88 stations, kalimantan is divided into nine zones, from a to e, all except a being subdivided (fig. 8.1). zone a, with more than nine wet months, covers over 40 per cent of the area, especially the central mountains and the ranges along the malaysian border. zone b1, with seven-nine wet months and fewer than two dry months, occupies a further 30 per cent and is the most extensive climatic zone in west kalimantan. the east and south-east coastal regions are the main locus of drier climates. the driest zones of all, e1 and e2, with fewer than three wet months and up to three dry ones, are in central east kalimantan, extending inland to include the middle mahakam basin (oldeman, lal, and muladi, 1980).

Fig. 8.1 Agro-climatic zones of Borneo (Source: Potter, from data described in the text)

Data for 71 stations provided in the Land Capability Classification of Sabah (Thomas, Low, and Hepburn, 1976), plus 40 Sarawak stations drawn from Seal (1958) and Chan (1984), allow the tentative extension of the Kalimantan agro-climatic map through Sabah and Sarawak shown in figure 8.1. Notable in Sabah is the rapid change in rainfall patterns as one moves over the high mountains, with a sharp gradient from A to E zones from west to east across the Cracker range. Totals are quite low over much of this interior plateau, where one station has only a marginally higher mean rainfall than the driest in Borneo - Sangkulirang in East Kalimantan (1,625 mm); however, mean monthly values do not drop below 100 mm (Beaman et al., 1985). The south-east coast is also protected from rain-bearing winds by surrounding high country and is a dry pocket, but exposed coasts receive heavy rain from the north-east monsoon (Lee, 1965; Sham Sani, 1984).1

Inter-annual variability and El Niño

All data based on mean values obscure inter-annual variation, and this is considerable even in areas classed as almost a-seasonal in the classifications. Fontanel and Chantefort (1978: 23) show that, even over the short period from 1961 to 1971, variability at Pontianak approached 40 per cent, precipitation falling to 2,638 mm in 1965 and rising to 4,912 mm in 1969. At Sandakan in Sabah, where records go back to 1879 (with some gaps), the range of annual precipitation up to 1992 was from 1,459 mm (in the 1914 drought) to 4,330 mm, around a 91-year mean of 3,039 mm (Meteorological Service, Sabah). In the Peninsula, Pekan on the east coast received only 954 mm in 1902, against its mean total of 3,230 mm (Dale, 1959/60).

Not all, but most, of this variability is associated with the El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) phenomenon and its extremes. Nicholls has noted the very large spatial scale over which ENSO events occur and the amplified rainfall variability found in affected areas (Nicholls and Wong, 1989; Nicholls, 1992, 1993). Although one might expect long dry periods to occur in the lower rainfall areas during El Niño events, and this is generally the case, surprising anomalies may also occur in the severity and length of the normally weak dry season in areas of much heavier falls.2

However, the incidence of seasons of drought and heavy rain in the Indonesian/Malaysian region frequently correlates poorly with the strength of events as indexed by their accepted signals in the oceanic

Pacific and on the South American coast (Quinn et al., 1978; Quinn, Neal, and Antenuz de Mayolo, 1987; Allen, Brookfield, and Byron, 1989; Brookfield and Allen, 1991). For example, a very major drought in the Indonesian region in 1914 corresponds with only a moderate east Pacific El Niño

Nor is this all the variability that needs to be taken into account. The magnitude and severity of dry events in wetter parts of the region are sometimes out of phase with those in the more regularly seasonal parts. The year 1965 is a case in point. It produced the strongest dry period signal in the Indonesian/New Guinea region as a whole between 1941 and 1972, but in the main it created only minor problems for agriculture. Yet in a part of normally drought-free West Kalimantan, it was reported to Potter that many people died of starvation as a result of drought and crop failure in that year. The year 1972 was more widely a drought year, and again it was particularly severe in West Kalimantan (Salavsky, 1994).

Droughts, fires, and El Niño

Droughts in modern

There is a nineteenth-century record of famine, as well as drought, from Java, though the famine events in that wet-rice island are associated principally with close-spaced incidence of drought and heavy rain - of El Niño preceded or followed by La Nina - and not with drought alone (Brookfield, 1993). The Colonial Reports describe drought in Java and Bali in both the 1850s and 1860s, and there is evidence of a region-wide drought of unusual severity in 1804 (Allen, Brookfield, and Byron, 1989). The explorer von Gaffron reported a persistent drought in 1846 in Kotawaringan, the remote southwesterly section of Central Kalimantan (Pijnappel, 1860), but we are lacking other reports from that year. There were certainly other events, but in the absence of any systematic record they cannot firmly be identified. Continuous rainfall recording began at Jakarta in 1864, but it was not until after the major event of 1877/78 that a countrywide network of rainfall stations was established, as it was also in India after the same disastrous year.

It is now generally recognized that, globally, the El Niño episode of 1877/78 was the most severe on record before that of 1982/83 (Kiladis and Diaz, 1986; Allen, Brookfield, and Byron, 1989; Brookfield and Allen, 1991). Drought was fierce, prolonged, and very widespread through the tropics and sub-tropics. Millions died in mainland Asia, though not in South-East Asia. The improvement in the record subsequent to this event is enormous. In Indonesia, the network of over 100 stations created in 1878, and mostly recording by 1879, expanded to 551 by 1915 (Boerema, 1917). There was only a more minor improvement in the record of the territories that became Malaysia; these suffered less in 1877/78.

In Indonesia, assemblage of data made possible the first scientific studies of rainfall and drought in 1905 and 1916 for Java (Figee, 1905; Van Bemmelen, 1916), and then over the whole country in the same second decade of the century (Break, 1915; Boerema, 1917). These studies were themselves prompted by new dry events of major order, that of 1902 also prompting two important government inquiries, one on declining welfare in Java as a whole (Onderzoek, 1904-1914) and the other specifically on famine in an area of north Java (Commissie, 1903). Then there was a further major drought in 1914. Thereafter, South-East Asia entered a long period with only short or regionally confined droughts. One young scientist did some important work on the proxy record of tree-rings in teak (Berlage, 1931), which, when he later became a renowned climatologist, played an important part in generating theory about ENSO and the Southern Oscillation (Berlage, 1957). With this exception, however, there seems to have then been a lull in Indonesian drought studies until after 1982/83.

The events accompanying the 1982/83 ENSO episode led to an upsurge in world interest in the phenomenon and its local impacts. In Indonesia the magnitude of the East Kalimantan fire prompted research into the drought/fire nexus (Leighton, 1984; Lennertz and Panzer, 1983; Wirawan, 1984a, 1984b; Malingreau, Stephens, and Fellows, 1985; Leighton and Wirawan, 1986). Work was also under way in Sabah, where large forest fires had occurred as well (Beaman et al., 1985; Woods, 1987, 1989). Follow-up studies were initiated in East Kalimantan by a German group investigating the possibilities of rehabilitating the burned area (Schindele, Thoma, and Panzer, 1989), which included a brief survey of the effects of the 1982/83 event on human populations, a curiously neglected aspect of all earlier work (Mayer, 1989). A Japanese-led team, concentrating on Kutai National Park, examined the fire's impact on soils, vegetation, and primates (Tagawa and Wirawan, 1988). These later studies, not surprisingly, centred almost solely on the effects of the fire rather than of the drought, as did Woods (1989) for Sabah.

Drought and the forests

Most early work on the climatic conditions of rain-forest formation concentrated only on annual mean values (Richards, 1952). By the 1960s there was a better appreciation of the significance of drought. In the Peninsula, a serious 1963 drought, not related to an El Niño reduced rainfall to only 4080 per cent of mean values (Nieuwolt, 1966). Brünig (1969) demonstrated that even for Sarawak, which on the basis of mean data shows little seasonal variation in rainfall patterns, dry periods of 30 consecutive days below 100 mm can occur more frequently and with stronger seasonal peaks than the monthly totals indicate. Water deficits, with reduced transpiration and growth of forest trees, will occur quite rapidly on certain soil types, especially heath forest soils, soils developed over limestone, and deep peat. Brünig (1977, 1987) feels that some morphological features of lowland rain forests, such as the prevalence of small, thick leaves and bark in upper-storey trees, and phonological features, namely drought-induced fruiting of dipterocarps, all indicate a response to regular dry-period stress. During severe drought these stresses are magnified, even in West Kalimantan and Sarawak.

Whitmore (1984) noted that exceptionally heavy flowering occurred in the Peninsula after the 1963 drought, and again after an event in 1968. Ashton, Givnish, and Appanah (1988: 55) believe that "drought is broadly correlated with mass flowering in peninsular Malaysia and Borneo." They also suggest that El Niño events trigger mass flowering in dipterocarps and cite evidence that this was indeed the case in many areas throughout Malesia during the events of 1976/ 77 and 1982/83.

Fire and drought

It is now possible to conclude that little of the region, even of Borneo, is immune from drought, and almost none of it under extreme conditions, such as existed in 1982/83. Probably only the montane forests of the interior always experience enough cloud and rain to avoid moisture stress. Closer to the coast, even the forest on Mt Kinabalu was badly affected by the drought of 1982/83. The corollary, given increases everywhere in human populations and in logging activities, is that much of the region is not immune from forest fire either.

This was not, however, appreciated at once. After the great conflagration in East Kalimantan and Sabah during the drought of 1982/83, fire was at first regarded as an unfortunate, but recently added, accompaniment to drought. However, fires occurred again in a limited area of East Kalimantan during the minor drought of 1987 and they were once again widespread during the prolonged El Niño of 1991-1995, though nowhere approaching the extent of the catastrophe of 1982/83.

Fires, however, are not a new element. Closer examination of the literature has shown that fires broke out in at least parts of East, South, and West Kalimantan during the drought of 1914 (Break, 1915; Rijckmans, 1916; Van der Laan, 1925; Endert, 1927). During the 1972 drought, Chia (1979) has described "very extensive haze" between the months of August and October over Singapore, the Peninsula, Eastern Sumatra, Java, Kalimantan, and Sarawak. He attributed this to "the burning of forest trees by shifting cultivators of the Indonesian islands of Sumatra and Kalimantan." Similar accounts appeared in the New Straits Times (Kuala Lumpur) in October 1972. The descriptions sound very much like the 1991 situation, in which there was a whole range of reasons for the extensive fires. Braak mentions extensive haze or fog accompanying the event of 1902, which could also indicate burning, although thus far no direct evidence has been found. Direct evidence is quoted, however, for the drought of 1846 in Kotawaringan, Central Kalimantan. Von Gaffron, exploring the district for coal and gold, described extensive burning of swamp forest, an area he estimated at almost 600,000 ha, which he believed must have burned for months (Pijuappel, 1860). He made no mention of any human influence, suggesting friction from the dry stems rubbing together. Swamp forest, especially if it is underlain by peat, is susceptible to burning in a very dry period.

Several separate excavations in East Kalimantan have revealed the presence of charcoal at depth. The locations were along an inland road (Goldammer and Seibert, 1989; Goldammer, 1992) and at two other locations, one of them in a kerangas forest (Shimokawa, 1988; Kartawinata, 1993). Some of these were associated with burning coal seams, and dated from 350 to as long ago as 17,710 years before the present. It is clear that fires have been around in many parts of the Borneo forests for a long time. Whereas the prehistoric evidence comes from the east, modern fires have also been reported in West Kalimantan (Break, 1915; Salavsky, 1994). The new factor of increased populations, associated with both agriculture and logging, has greatly increased forest vulnerability to even more widespread burning.

Greater detail on El Niño-induced droughts in Borneo

Historical droughts in east and south-east Kalimantan

The Hulu Sungai district of south-east Kalimantan provides a particularly suitable region in which to trace the historical impact of drought. It has for centuries been a heavily populated rice-growing area, regularly reported upon by Dutch administrators since 1860 when they assumed direct government over the former Banjarmasin sultanate. Rainfall records are available with only occasional gaps for two stations, Amuntai and Barabai, from 1880 to 1941, and for seven additional stations for periods ranging from 15 to 40 years. A number of other stations have been added since independence, but there are many gaps in the data.

The El Niño of 1877/78 and the La Niña of 1879

Lying south of the equator and in the lee of the Meratus mountains, the Hulu Sungai and its environs normally experience a three-month dry season during the south-east monsoon between July and September. In El Niño years the dry weather may continue for five or even six months, as it does in normal years in south-eastern Indonesia. Although rainfall statistics were not collected during the 1870s, the severity of the abnormal climatic conditions in 1877 and 1878 was remarked upon in the Annual Reports of the Residency (Algemeene Verslagen). Rice crops failed because of the long drought in 1877/78, and were then mediocre in 1879 as a result of La Nina flooding.

By that time, the situation of the population was stated to be "critical" (Meijer, 1880). Although data are not fully reliable, records show that total numbers of people in the area under direct Dutch control dropped from 444,175 in 1876 to 423,496 in 1879, with each year showing a progressive decline. There was no discussion as to whether some people might have died of starvation, though Dayaks and others in upland areas were said to be subsisting on wild yams. The authorities responded by providing paid work in drainage and canal construction, while at the same time importing rice. Some of the drop in numbers might, however, have come from out-migration, as people from the Hulu Sungai responded to the invitation of the Sul tan of Kutai (immediately to the north, in modern East Kalimantan) offering them land and remission of debts.

Kutai itself had also fared badly in the 1877/78 drought. Bock, the Danish explorer travellingin the area in 1879, described dead forests and hard-pressed Dayaks, who had to depend on food supplies sent into the villages by the Sultan. In Muara Kaman on the middle Mahakam, where one-third of the forest trees had died, the drought of 1878 was said to have lasted eight to nine months (Bock, 1881). Many of the Banjarese immigrants settled in the lake district of the middle Mahakam. The lakes themselves would certainly have dried up in the 1877/78 drought, which makes sense of the story, persistent in local oral history, that fish fingerlings had to be brought from the Hulu Sungai to stock them (Potter, 1993a). These lakes also became dry in 1914, 1982/83, and 1991 and, by implication, perhaps in other years of unusually severe drought in the past.

1885,1888, and 1891

Droughts reappeared in the Hulu Sungai (as elsewhere in Indonesia) in 1885, 1888, and 1891 (Allen, Brookfield, and Byron, 1989). In 1885 it was mentioned in the Annual Reports that there had been differential impact on the rice crops of the district. Those of Amuntai, which, owing to deep flooding during the rains, normally grew only in the dry season, had fared quite well, but rain-fed sawah and upland shifting-cultivation rice had failed completely. Rainfall figures indeed show Barabai, chief centre of the rain-fed rice area, as experiencing the greater drop in available moisture. The 1888 event produced a six-month dry season in Amuntai but heavy rain for the rest of the year; that of 1891 was more marked, with five dry months but a 30 per cent reduction in the annual total. In 1888, the failure of tobacco crops that were being experimentally produced around Amuntai was announced. With failed crops and no sources of cash income, Banjarese began looking beyond Borneo for means of subsistence. By 1899 the Resident noted that so many people were moving it was becoming difficult to collect taxes (Boers, 1899).


In 1902, rice crops recorded their lowest yield for the 20-year period from 1895 to 1914, returning less than 45 per cent of the average (Lindblad, 1988, using statistics from the Koloninal Verslag). Although much of the Hulu Sungai experienced a six-month dry season in 1902, part of the problem with the rice crops appears to have been the excessively heavy rainfall that occurred during the growing season, before the dry weather became established. This is similar to what happened in northcentral Java (Commissie, 1903). Barabai, the centre of rain-fed sawah production, was deluged with 2,737 mm from January to April, more than its mean annual rainfall and enough to drown most crops. This was followed by only 460 mm over the following six months, just over half the amount expected in a normal year. This tendency for heavy rainfall to precede or succeed the onset of an El Niño has been noted for other events, and Brookfield and Allen (1991) suggest that this is a much more serious cause of distress in subsistence agriculture in South-East Asia and the Pacific than is drought itself.

By the time of the 1902 drought, a number of commercial tobacco plantations had been established around the edges of the Hulu Sungai district, following the passing of the Agrarian Regulation for South and East Kalimantan in 1888, which allowed lands to be taken up under long lease. Although some of these enterprises were speculative, others provided a useful source of local income. During its brief heyday, 1,000 workers were employed at one estate. Competition from Sumatra was beginning to prove a problem by 1900, however, and the 1902 drought, which resulted in extensive failures in production, led to the closure of a number of enterprises. By 1905 the tobacco industry was all but dead.

Perhaps because swidden fires escaped more readily in a long dry season, the colonial authorities moved to institute bans on upland burning during 1902 in a vain attempt to control shifting cultivation and stop the spread of Imperata cylindrica grass, which is easily inflammable but fire tolerant. A later comment was that such a ban must fail, as there was already so much grassland (Wentholt, 1938).


The 1914 event was found by Brookfield and Allen (1991) to have been the major regional dry event between 1877/78 and 1982/83. This conclusion was based on use of a dry-period index calculated by Allen (1989), and applied across the whole region by Allen, Brookfield, and Byron (1989). It is from 1914 that we have the first clear evidence of extensive forest burning in Borneo. Resident Rijckmans (1916) noted that the drought lasted until November and it was not until December that good rains arrived. As a result of the long and fierce drought, enormous damage was done to the forests, in which great complexes were destroyed by fire. Van der Laan (1925) looked back on the 1914 experience a few years later and was more specific, referring to burning of peat soil in the swamp forests "through which beautiful forest complexes die." Endert (1927: 233), travelling through "Middle-eastern Borneo" in 1925, noticed some hill forest that showed signs of having been burnt "after a fire in a very dry year, roughly ten years ago" - this could very well have been 1914. This particular patch was thin-stemmed, poor in species, and surrounded by much richer and taller forest. From Sabah comes evidence also that a large conflagration destroyed the forests in an area south of Mt Kinabalu, known as the "Sook Plain," which has subsequently remained as Imperata grassland (Cockburn, 1974). D. Matthews, the Conservator of Forests for British North Borneo, wrote in 1917 that a very wide area of forest "between Keningau and mile 41 on the Keningau-Sook Valley bridle path" had been destroyed by fire, probably "a very widespread and destructive one in the year 1914 to 1915." He continued: "The fire very apparently started as a ground fire but in places climbed the trunks of the trees to the crowns, a very rare occurrence in tropical forests" (Matthews, 1917). He estimated the destruction of the forest to have occurred over 100 square miles, girdling all the large trees and destroying the undergrowth as well. The drought in Sabah, at least on the west coast, took place between March and May 1914 and caused considerable declines in production on the rubber estates (Straits Times [Singapore], 21 November 1914; 27 November 1914).

There was also contemporary description of widespread smoke and haze. The harbour master at Samarinda was reported by Braak (1915) as writing that "the haziness, often becoming mists, was largely caused by bush fires which could be smelled and caused pain to one's eyes." The Straits Times of 31 October reported a large fire in "West Central Borneo" and added: "Huge columns of smoke have spread themselves for miles around, hanging low over the sea and inconveniencing the ship routes in the Muntok and Karimata straits." Such descriptions were corroborated by Braak, who stated that ships' captains travelling along the Borneo coast, in the west between Pontianak and Sinkawang, and in the east off Pasir, complained of poor visibility and at times had pieces of burning grass land on their decks. The whole coast of Borneo, as well as parts of Sumatra, Maluku, and other areas, appeared to be covered in mist or smoke (Break, 1915).

The length of this drought was exceptional in many districts, one of the most notable being Muara Muntai (middle Mahakam). The total rainfall reported for that station for 1914 was only 904 mm, with the drought lasting nine months, from February to December. During the drought period, only 34 per cent of mean rainfall was received, which makes this drought comparable with that of 1982/83, in which 32 per cent of the mean was received in Muara Muntai over 11 months. Again the Mahakam lakes would have been dry, as Van Gelder (1915) reported for Martapura (not nearly as strongly affected) that the pools and lakes had dried up and the young fish had died. The rivers were also extremely low, with transport becoming impossible in the upper reaches of large streams such as the Mahakam and Barito. Resident Rijckmans reported an epidemic of smallpox but noted that cholera, usually endemic in the district, had fortunately not risen to epidemic proportions. Comments were made about the difficulty of procuring safe drinking water in Banjarmasin.

In south-east Borneo, studies were undertaken of the possibilities for irrigation works in the rice districts. Although an irrigation bureau was set up in 1919, very little was done. Resident Grijzen (1917) had suggested that often it was flood control, as much as drought, that caused the major problems. He was critical, however, of one report on irrigation possibilities, which suggested that Banjarese were not really interested in intensive farming. It was not until the late 1930s that some irrigation dams were constructed along the mountainous rim of the Hulu Sungai and an attempt was made to empolder one difficult swamp section, Alabio island. Meantime, smallholder rubber was beginning to solve the problem of cash incomes in the district, so that failure of rice crops was no longer quite so catastrophic. Although droughts did affect rubber yields, the dry period of 1925 coincided with a rubber boom and scarcely elicited comment. One important change that also occurred was greatly to increase the planted rice area from the 1930s, by bringing under cultivation large sections of tidal swamps. Some Banjarese from Hulu Sungai moved permanently to those lands, while others would travel temporarily to reap their annual harvests. The tidal swamplands were more vulnerable to drought because their specially adapted rices had a long growing season, their harvest not taking place until August, well after the rainfed rice had been reaped (Potter, 1993a).


Between 1914 and the "modern" droughts of 1965, 1972, and 1982/ 83, it is only the dry period of the 1940s that is remembered. That was a very confused time, with the Japanese invasion taking place early in 1942. Informants remember that an exodus from the villages to the city of Banjarmasin (the earliest of a continuing series of rural-urban migrations) was initially triggered off by drought and resulting crop losses.

Modern droughts and fires

Selection among the data

Here we concentrate almost wholly on 1982/83 and 1991 -1994, because of both the volume of material available and their relative importance. Moreover, the political violence of 1965 may have eclipsed any drought impacts in southeast Borneo but the 1972 season was remembered for the drying up of rivers, initially a basis for comparison with 1982/83. The Straits Times of 14 October 1972 reported quite extensive forest fires over South Kalimantan from satellite pictures.

The 1982/83 El Niño The event in South and East Kalimantan and Sabah

The 1982/83 event has received extensive coverage for its extreme length and severity, as well as its worldwide impacts (Kerr, 1983; Philander, 1983; Canby 1984; Kiladis and Diaz, 1986; Allen, 1989). Studies by Leighton (1984) and by Leighton and Wirawan (1986) for East Kalimantan and by Beaman et al. (1985) for Sabah present comparable analyses of rainfall data for selected stations during the drought period. Whereas Leighton's data are restricted to a small part of East Kalimantan, those for Sabah are representative of a wider area. Both indicate an extraordinarily long dry period, although they cover a slightly different time-scale - from June 1982 to May 1983 in the case of East Kalimantan (which is also applicable to areas further south) and from September 1982 to June 1983 for Sabah. The unique extension of the drought period so far beyond its normal seasonal limits, including the whole of the following wet season, distinguishes the 1982/83 event from all others, except perhaps that of 1877/78. The most severe dry period was in fact from February to April 1983, the middle of the normal wet season. Although Sabah's seasons are somewhat different, the same concentration of extreme dryness occurred in the early part of 1983. Rainfall was only 32 per cent of normal throughout the dry period for the East Kalimantan stations and 39 per cent for Sabah. Leighton (1984) reported that many normally evergreen canopy trees in the primary forest at Mentoko (Kutai National Park) began shedding their leaves during February and March 1983 in response to the drought, which was ac companied by excessive heat. Fires occurred in East Kalimantan in September to November 1982 and March to May 1983, and in Sabah largely from February to May 1983, but in northern Sabah fires continued to be reported until August 1983.

The 1982/83 El Niño The newspaper record for South and East Kalimantan

Whereas the Kalimantan literature has concentrated on the resulting fire, other impacts have not been fully documented. The two-year record provided by the South Kalimantan Banjarmasin Post (BP), a leading regional Indonesianlanguage daily, allows the wider context to be assessed. It is interesting that the year 1982 began with very heavy rainfall and serious floods in the northern Hulu Sungai, with thousands of hectares of sawah ruined, roads washed away, and 563 houses destroyed (BP, 7 January 1982). In February, 23,000 ha of rice fields were storing insufficient water as bunds and irrigation channels had been damaged and structures for water diversion in streams had been washed away (BP, 13 February 1982). The rain-fed crop, harvested in April, was thus poor.

The beginning of June saw the start of the dry season, with salt water already intruding into the Barito-Martapura river system at Banjarmasin. People were warned not to drink the river water but to buy fresh water (BP, 6 July 1982). New transmigrants in tidal swamp areas received special water deliveries from the government, but other settlers were not so lucky. At Balikpapan, private trucks assisted government agencies and the national oil company in distributing water from underground supplies (BP, 24 August 1982). News from Central Kalimantan was of streams drying in their upper reaches, disrupting transportation but making life easier for gold panners, who were able to operate in new locations where waters were unusually shallow. Everywhere, salt-water intrusion forced people to seek drinking water from small but drying tributaries. Cholera and diarrhoea soon broke out, and some deaths occurred.

Forest fires began in Central Kalimantan by the end of August, with dense smoke preventing planes from landing at Palangkaraya (BP, 31 August 1982). A month later almost all Kalimantan airports were closed as fires spread. Thick smoke blanketed the Mahakam River and Samarinda city in East Kalimantan, and the sky was constantly red. One reporter described the scene along the Balikpapan-Samarinda highway, with huge trees half a metre in diameter blackened into charcoal or half collapsed into ash. He stated that farmers settled illegally in the protected forest at Bukit Soeharto, bordering the road, burnt undergrowth and weeds around their crops, only to see the crops destroyed and the surrounding large dry trees also ignite. Shifting cultivators were soon blamed, with reports that bans on burning had been ignored (BP, 17 and 19 September 1982).

River levels in South Kalimantan had become critical. The Negara dropped from 62,399 cubic metres per second (cumecs) in June to 8,481 in September, the Barabai from 21,128 to 1,128. The low level of the Riam Kanan reservoir, which supplied hydropower to the province, eventually made it almost non-operational and electricity supplies to the cities of Banjarmasin, Martapura, and Banjarbaru were substantially reduced (BP, 23 January 1983). In April and May 1983 there were attempts at cloud-seeding over the reservoir, but they were unsuccessful (BP, 12 and 24 April 1983; 8 May 1983). By March 1983, both Samarinda and Balikpapan were facing serious water problems with wells running dry; people found themselves having to pay large sums for their water needs (BP, 8 and 26 March 1983). At the end of March, Samarinda was once again covered in smoke, which entered the closed houses. Roads were closed because of poor visibility and boat traffic was disrupted on the upper Mahakam River.

The 10-month drought in East Kalimantan was declared by local officials to be a national disaster. It was understood that thousands of hectares of forest had burned along the Mahakam and between Samarinda and Balikpapan. Crops had been destroyed, cattle had died of thirst, while fishermen had lost their livelihood (BP, 30 March 1983). Not until normal rains returned late in May 1983 was the crisis over.

The scale of damage did not at once become widely known. However, in December 1983 it was reported in the Banjarmasin Post that 3.1 million ha of forest had been burnt. The major conclusions of an aerial study by a combined team from the German aid project "Transmigration Area Development" and the local university were reproduced. According to Asiaweek, this "leaking" of the report caused some furore in official government circles, because the Germans had been asked to keep their findings secret. A fuller report was apparently sent from Hamburg by another Antara journalist and efforts were made to keep it out of Kompas, the mass circulation Jakarta daily, where it was eventually run in March 1984 (Asiaweek, 1984).

The 1982/83 El Niño Scientific studies in East Kalimantan and Sabah The earliest scientific study, carried out by both aerial and ground survey over five weeks (Lennertz and Panzer, 1983: 12), was aimed at evaluating the impact of the drought and fire on future land-use planning. It concluded that 3.5 million ha had been degraded by `'natural drought and man-made fires." Crowns of trees were classified into three groups: (1) drought damaged but not burned; (2) moderately burned; (3) severely burned. The severity of the disaster was stated to be the result of "an unfortunate combination of adverse climatic conditions, fire-based shifting cultivation and the accumulation of easily inflammable logging residue" (ibid.: 14). A high rate of dead trees in logged-over forests (62 per cent as against 50 per cent in unlogged areas) indicated that logging operations favoured the development of intensive fires. Up to 75 per cent of the area was considered to be severely damaged, especially in the swamp forests, where mortality reached 90 per cent.

While some government officials were still playing down the seriousness of the fire (Asiaweek, 1984), the Lennertz and Panzer report was challenged by the Indonesian ecologist, Wirawan, on the grounds that the classification of forest damage was too rough and the survey time too short. He suggested that large areas within the burned region were probably undamaged or suffering drought damage only. A detailed ground survey of park and reserve areas indicated that, in Kutai Nature Reserve for example, damage was confined to zones that had previously been logged, with more serious damage in the more intensively logged sections. One swamp-forest reserve, however, had become a treeless lake (Wirawan, 1984a, 1984b).

Leighton, who had conducted research on the northern edge of Kutai Reserve in 1977-1979, returned in September 1983 to assess the impact of the fire on the primary forest. A cool ground fire had slowly burned through the area in April. Wirawan sampled a similar forest 20 kilometres away that had been drought-stressed only. Collectively (Leighton, 1984; Wirawan, 1984b), they found that all the large lianas were killed on burned sites and that over 90 per cent of the small saplings in burned primary forest were killed; in unburned forest this was only 25 per cent. Moreover, large trees had lower mortality in burned forest, most of the mortality being due to drought. Tree mortality on wetter alluvial soils was half that on drier sites.

Similar studies were undertaken in Sabah by Woods (1989) in which pairs of burned and unburned plots were compared for prim ary forest and forest that had been logged two years and six years respectively before the fire. In the area logged two years previously, mortality due to drought and fire was 2.5 times greater than that due to drought alone, with trees previously damaged by logging suffering higher mortality. As in the Kalimantan study, the smaller trees were more often killed by the fire than were larger ones, but the overall mortality of large trees was still high in the much hotter fires that occurred in the secondary forest. Mortality in the unlogged forest was lower than in all similar size categories in the logged forest. Woods concluded that fire in combination with previous logging had the most serious impact on forest structure, with both greater sapling mortality and loss of canopy cover. Where canopy loss was high, an increase was noted in the density of invasive grasses and creepers, while post-fire sapling growth was mainly of secondary species, with few upper-canopy species and a reduction in total species diversity and density. This would greatly reduce the regeneration potential of the dipterocarps, which would have to depend on the survival of a few large "mother" trees whose density in the secondary forests was quite low. A final general conclusion was that disturbed forests were more fire-prone than primary forests. The Sabah fires reported by Beaman et al. (1985) burned over 1 million ha of forest land, of which 85 per cent had been logged.

Later studies and the impact on wildlife

The Kutai Nature Reserve had its status changed to that of a National Park in 1985. The impacts of the fire on animal and insect populations were examined for sections of the area by Leighton and Wirawan (1986) and by members of a Japanese-led team in 1988. Leighton noted the disproportionate death by fire of fruit trees, suppliers of food to primates and large birds, such as hornbills, and of lianas and figs, important for primates. He noted heavy losses of frugivorous birds and of seed-eating squirrels, but found the primates to be surprisingly resilient, probably because of their ability to subsist on bark and leaves where fruit stores disappeared. The Japanese studies, conducted a few years later, used sightings and transect censuses in attempts to estimate animal populations. Conclusions indicated a drop in leaf monkeys, and few macaques were seen (Azuma, 1988), but orangutans were scarcely affected (Suzuki, 1988). Other studies showed that macaques, like the orangutans, had successfully adapted their diets to environmental changes and were feeding on secondary species (Boer, 1989). Mayer's work on the vil rages (1989) showed that, although pigs and deer had been killed by the fire, their populations recovered quickly and they continued to be pests of cultivation. Sightings of freshwater dolphins, which formerly inhabited the Mahakam lakes, had decreased because of the drying of the lakes, the death of fish, and the subsequent pollution of the Mahakam River with fire debris (Boer, 1989). Wirawan (1993) has added that the dolphins, as well as the local fish, suffered from serious skin infections.

An ambitious follow-up study of the total burned area was undertaken by Schindele, Thoma, and Panzer (1989), the results of a project entitled "Investigation of the Steps Needed to Rehabilitate the Areas of East Kalimantan Seriously Affected by Fire." Seven years after the fire it was not possible to distinguish drought from fire damage. A total of 2.81 million ha of lowland dipterocarp forest was found to be damaged by drought and fire, of which 1.1 million was lightly disturbed, 0.98 million moderately disturbed, and 0.73 million heavily disturbed. In addition, 0.49 million ha of swamp forest was burned, with 90,000 ha completely destroyed.

One major conclusion was that "it was not the drought which caused this huge fire, but the changed condition of the forest" (Schindele, Thoma, and Panzer, 1989: 71). The most heavily disturbed area coincided with both the districts of most recent logging intensity and those of the highest population densities. The authors were not optimistic about the regeneration possibilities of the most heavily disturbed sites, where in many cases the entire forest structure had been destroyed and replaced by pioneers. Lightly disturbed forests, on the other hand, still retained their structure, with fire affecting only the low and middle storeys. Species diversity continued to be high and dipterocarp seed trees remained in the vicinity. These forests were considered largely able to recover by themselves (ibid: 104). In between were the moderately disturbed forests in which there was the greatest need for enrichment planting of dipterocarps and other rehabilitation measures if their recovery for timber production was to be possible within 100 years (ibid: 111). Rehabilitation would be more complicated because differences in soils and topography led to variability in damage sustained over short distances.

People and forest management

A commissioned study of local populations by Mayer found, perhaps predictably, that villagers questioned in East Kalimantan about their attitudes to forest management were very concerned about forests in their immediate area but had no interest in those further afield. They reported that the lack of non-timber forest products, such as rattan, damar (for resin), and gaharu (aloe wood), was having a severe impact on their incomes, perhaps the most severe long-term impact of the drought and fire once the immediate short-term problems of failed/burned crops and water shortages were overcome. Others bemoaned lost jobs on the concessions as many firms scaled down their operations (Mayer, 1989).

It was suggested that a long-term pilot project in dipterocarp regeneration be set up on 30,000-50,000 ha, in which local and transmigrant populations could be integrated into forestry activities and strategies for fire prevention would be developed and implemented (Schindele and Thoma, 1989). Unfortunately the proposal for a model regeneration site was rejected by the funding agencies, apparently because of its long time-frame. Since 1983 there has been little attempt at enrichment planting or other techniques to improve regeneration of dipterocarps. The concentration has been on fastgrowing plantations of Acacia mangium, Paraserianthes falcataria, and Eucalyptus deglupta, destined eventually for pulp. Such plantations are also very easily combustible. A minor drought in 1987 and the more noteworthy event in 19911994, discussed below, were accompanied by further fires and considerable areas of plantations perished.

There has also been little attempt to involve either local people or transmigrants in forest management, although the new plantations often bring with them a contingent of transmigrant labourers (see chap. 10).

The El Niño of 1991-1995

A briefer discussion only is offered of the most recent fire event, the product of a prolonged and not yet fully understood El Niño period that began in 1991 and did not end until early 1995. Our data refer only to the 1991/92 period. Potter spent time in Banjarmasin and the Hulu Sungai (South Kalimantan) and in Balikpapan, Samarinda, and the middle Mahakam (East Kalimantan) during October 1991, when the drought and accompanying fires were at their height. Newspaper coverage of this drought was obtained for the months of AugustOctober 1991.

Incomplete rainfall data for 1991/92 reveal, for one East Kalimantan station, a situation very similar to that in 1982/83. Apart from a brief interlude in November 1991, drought continued from June 1991 through April 1992. Total rainfall for the 11 months was only 484 mm, of which 60 per cent fell during November 1991. At Kota Kinabalu, in Sabah, a period of very low rainfall similarly lasted from August 1991 to May 1992. From field observation and reading of the newspaper record, this event was severe, at least in terms of its disruption of people's lives. There was considerable burning of both swamp forest and plantation in South Kalimantan, at the previously damaged Bukit Soeharto reserve in East Kalimantan, and in the vicinity of Muara Teweh and Palangkaraya in Central Kalimantan. Around Palangkaraya the fires covered 76,000 ha and isolated the town. Planes could not land and boat traffic was also restricted through poor visibility. Again, the burning of swamp forest seems to have been the cause, ascribed to the "carelessness" of the people (Dinamika Berita, 23 September 1991).

Apart from the fires, the other strong impression made on Potter was the amount of sickness that accompanied the drought. Lack of drinking water brought with it widespread epidemics of cholera and dysentery. Early October saw 2,000 sick in Samarinda and there were a number of deaths in Banjarmasin, particularly of poor people living in overcrowded barracks or similar housing.3 Central Kalimantan suffered at least 148 people dead for the year from "diare" or "muntaber," euphemisms for cholera (Dinamika Berita, 10 October 1991). Most were in isolated villages far from medical care.

Other problems mentioned were shutdowns of sawmills and wood factories in the cities because of the difficulty of obtaining raw material. Logs could not be floated down the streams because their upper reaches were too shallow. Airlines lost money because passengers could not fly, and one small plane disappeared in the fog and smoke. As usual, crops were destroyed, especially those from the tidal swamps. People simply walked off their lands to try and earn money somewhere else (Dinamika Berita, 21 August 1991; 18 and 19 September 1991;10 and 14 October 1991). The fishing industry was at a standstill. Potter visited the "lakes" of the middle Mahakam to find them dry and negotiable by motor bike.


It now seems evident that drought and fire have always been a part of the natural environment in Borneo, at least for the last several thousand years. The effect of this finding for the ecology of the tropical rain forest as a whole, especially in this wettest of regions, remains to be written. We cannot offer more. However, the impact of drought and fire over the past 10 years has been much more devastating than at any time in at least the previous 100 years, and probably much longer.

Human adjustment is yet another matter. The unfortunate experiences that the population has endured as a result of these "visitations" of fire and drought have not produced systems to cope with recurring disasters. The record shows that the forest and even the primates have developed patterns of adaptation, so that El Niños trigger fruiting mechanisms in dipterocarps and primates can adjust diets to overcome scarcity of preferred foods. Moreover, the indigenous Dayaks and other long-settled farming populations suffer, but find means of adaptation. In the Tinjar valley of Sarawak, for example, rice production of one village, calculated from data in Lian (1987: 139), fell to only 54 per cent of the 1978-1985 mean in 1982, but this was compensated by additional planting, leading to a peak production of 130 per cent of the mean in 1983. On the other hand, the modern population of Borneo, depending as it largely does on the use of forest resources, is not able to handle the impact of severe drought. With more people and more logging, and hence an inherently unstable and combustible forest, plus inadequate water supply, health care, and transport systems, a situation of serious endangerment, made worse with every new drought, has already been reached.


1. Most of the Peninsula falls into categories C1 and C2 (5-6 wet months) or D1 and D2 (3-4 wet months), with short to moderate dry seasons. Exceptions are the Highlands (A) and western Johor (B1). Jelebu, in Negri Sembilan, with a four-month dry season, is classified E3, which has no Bornean counterpart. Its annual mean is slightly higher than the chest Borneo stations (data from Chan, 1984; Dale, 1959/60).
2. The one lower-rainfall area for which there is a poor correlation of drought with El Niño is that in the north-west of the Peninsula, which has a climatic regime different from that of the rest of the region.
3. At Pontianak in West Kalimantan, falling river levels in the Kapuas permitted salt water to enter the city water-supply intakes, leading to an immediate shutdown in the whole system, and supply only by trucks for a period of some months.


One of the major elements of criticality, as addressed in this book, concerns the degradation of land cover. The conversion of oldgrowth forest to various secondary formations as a result of agriculture and logging activities has already been discussed. The opening of gaps in the canopy allows light to penetrate the forest floor and may create a suitable environment for the establishment of lightloving invasive grassy weeds, of which Imperata cylindrica is the most infamous. This grass, which has many different names in different countries, is known as alang-alang in Indonesia and as lalang in Malaysia. For convenience and easier use of the literature, these national names are used interchangeably with lmperata wherever appropriate in this chapter. Under certain conditions this grass may become dominant over wide areas, a position that it maintains through its tolerance of fire. There are parts of the region where this conversion to "sheet alang-alang" has occurred, particularly in south-east Kalimantan. From colonial times through to the present, officials have viewed such a transformation with alarm, and there is no doubt that the grassland ecosystem has much less to offer than the forest in terms of biodiversity, total biomass for the maintenance of soil fertility and carbon capture, and as a producer of useful materials for human populations. That it does provide some opportunities is less well known and less frequently mentioned in the literature. These opportunities will be discussed in this chapter.

Local people and their shifting-cultivation systems have usually been viewed as the main "culprits" in the forest-grassland trans formation, and indeed they have often created grassland, usually on a small scale and with full understanding of the results of their behaviour. The current rate of attack on the forests, through logging, land settlement, and other pressures, would appear to be creating the conditions for a rapid and irreversible increase in grassland formation. This has led to predictions of doom by some observers and statements such as: "Currently, land use throughout Kalimantan is on an unstable trajectory of net conversion of rainforest to alang-alang, without yet the development of sustainable systems of productive agriculture, of productive managed forestry and of protection of nature reserves" (Leighton and Peart, 1988). The fact that one of these authors, a biologist, has been carryi_ng out research in parks and nature reserves in Kalimantan over more than 10 years gives weight to such a pronouncement. If indeed this were the case, one might well claim an imminent state of "criticality" for Kalimantan and, by extension, the rest of Borneo. We do not believe that this scenario accurately represents the future, but it is clear that the question of the grasslands needs detailed examination, to which we now turn our attention.

Imperata - A problem or a solution?

Imperata cylindrica (L.) Raeuschel var major has been nominated as one of the world's 10 worst weeds (Holm and Herberger, 1969). Although descriptive accounts of its spread in various parts of the region had already appeared by the mid-nineteenth century, more intensive biological studies over the past 30 years have led to increased knowledge of the characteristics of this plant and have pointed to possible directions for its control. Studies of its social and cultural importance as a component of farming systems have also been carried out in recent times, while its economic possibilities have been assessed, ranging from pulp for paper through concentrated cattle feed to wine.

Although propagated by seed, one of the main characteristics of Imperata is the formation of a dense mat of rhizomes just below the surface. The apical bud of the rhizome will turn up to form a new shoot, while sub-apical buds form rhizome branches (Ayeni, 1985). Rhizomes may remain for long periods in the soil without losing their germination capacity, and they may not be directly connected with above-ground shoots (Eussen and de Groot, 1974). They are constantly capable of sending up new shoots even after destruction of the above-ground biomass after fire - a characteristic that allows this plant to persist and spread at the expense of secondary forest species, which may be destroyed by fire. Competition for space, nutrients, and water in the root zone will allow the grass to crowd out crop plants, while at the same time the Imperata secretes allelopathic substances to further inhibit the growth of competitors (Eussen, Slamet, and Soeroto, 1976; Eussen, 1977).

The main reason for this behaviour is that Imperata is light-loving and will die if tree species are able to grow tall enough to shade it out. In primary forest, it may appear briefly in natural gaps but will quickly be shaded out by tree regrowth. Once established in larger gaps or following several years of continued shifting cultivation, it will still eventually be shaded out if the regrowth is protected from fire. The establishment of what is known as "sheet alang-alang'', in which the grass is dominant over wide areas, requires human activity through regular burning, which favours the grass over other species, unless these are also fire-resistant and possess a deep root system. Introduced weeds, such as Lantana camara and Chromolaena odorata (formerly, and still sometimes in the literature, Eupatorium odoratum), may compete successfully with the Imperata (Eussen and de Groot, 1974) and enable plant species with a higher canopy, such as Vitex pubescens (labun, halabun, keleban) and types of Macaranga or Trema, to become established. Although known as a persistent weed on plantations, Imperata may fairly easily be controlled through the establishment of cover crops until shading out by the trees takes place. It is the sheet alang-alang areas that provide the biggest problems when restoration of tree cover is desired.

Although environmental and PROCEZ criticality, as examined in the Appendix, will be kept at the forefront of this analysis, it must be remembered that there is another definition of "critical land" as used by Indonesian writers. As Soerjani (1980: 9) summarized: "in Indonesia in particular and in Southeast Asia in general, there is a strong tendency for critical land to be wasteland occupied by alang-alang." He went on to state that critical land denotes unproductive land from the agricultural point of view, and may fall into three types: hydro-orologically critical (in a watershed area); physically and technically critical (in a process of degradation, such as in alang-alang fields); or socio-economically critical, where its utilization exceeds its carrying capacity. Soerjani added that "outside Java critical land is covered with alangalang and shrubs as a result of improper shifting cultivation practices." We are thus presented with a complete argu ment that at once defines critical land and provides an explanation for its origin and a solution to its spread - the elimination of shifting cultivation.

Generations of Dutch, British, and French colonial administrators throughout South-East Asia believed that country dominated by Imperata cylindrica was simply a wasteland, an idea also expounded by Gourou (1953) and for Indonesia by Geertz (1963), repeated by Soerjani (1980). Although this view has persisted among some Indonesian and Malaysian scientists, foresters, and planners, the mid 1970s saw a re-evaluation in terms of its potential use for both agriculture and grazing. Soerjatna and McIntosh (1980) emphasized the importance of the grass in providing a fast-growing cover to the soil after deforestation, thus preventing erosion and leaching. Grassland areas had been identified as preferred sites for transmigration projects, given that they were so extensive and that alternative ecological zones, such as forest or tidal swamp, had presented problems in terms of availability, accessibility, and soil quality (Soerjatna and McIntosh, 1980; Burbridge, Dixon and Soewardi, 1981).

In recent times the choice of forest sites for transmigration has come under pressure from the international conservation movement, giving even more impetus for the selection of locations in the grasslands. Inputs such as fertilizer have been suggested, however, as essential for permanent farming. Tjitrosoedirdjo and Wiroatmodjo (1982) recommended herbicide with minimum or zero tillage for the preparation of grass-based transmigration sites, but more common has been the integration of cattle as work animals to eliminate the alang-alang by ploughing (Soewardi and Sastradipradja, 1980). Government agencies opposed to shifting cultivation saw the development of permanent grassland farming as the preferred alternative for local farmers who worked swidden plots in forested areas near grassland sites.

Soewardi (1976) suggested that development of animal husbandry in the alang-alang dominated areas was feasible, since its qualities as forage were not unfavourable when compared with other grasses, although some feed supplements would usually be required. He considered that in large areas of Kalimantan, under conditions of low land capability and lack of socioeconomic capacity for extensive pasture improvement, alang-alang should be considered not a weed but an opportunity (Soewardi, 1976; Soewardi and Sastradipradja, 1980).

Meanwhile anthropologists and geographers were also urging a closer examination of the activities of indigenous populations in creating and maintaining areas of alang-alang. Seavoy (1975: 49) stated that grasslands were an integral part of the economy and social structure of all villages of shifting cultivators that he had visited in Kalimantan, whether Dayak or Malay. "Every village has at least one small field of Imperata cylindrica (alang-alang) nearby. Kalimantan shifting cultivators purposely create this field by burning and reburning one or more abandoned ladang [dry fields] until Imperata becomes a pure stand." Seavoy claimed that grasslands were created for hunting purposes only and were not used by shifting cultivators to graze cattle. A second group, "part-time grazers," according to his description grew little rice and exchanged cattle for their rice needs. They would burn Imperata to secure fresh feed for their animals.

In his description of Batak grassland farming in the Lake Toba region of Sumatra, Sherman (1980) challenged Geertz's (1963) assumption that alangalang areas were useless "green desert." Bataks would turn the heavy grass sod with hoes (in earlier times digging sticks) and eventually break up the rhizomes by hand, on fields carefully terraced to prevent erosion. Both cattle and buffalo were reared, the latter being used to plough nearby wet-rice fields. They and the cattle, which were raised for sale, were stall-fed or pastured on young Imperata shoots. Their manure was collected and used on cash crops of onions. Complementarity thus existed between raising livestock and farming grassland.

Dove (1981) claimed that the existence of large areas of alang-alang in the Riam Kanan valley of South Kalimantan was attributable to the swidden practices of the local Banjarese population. According to Dove's sources, prior to World War II the people had, over a long period, deliberately planted newly opened land in dry rice for three out of the succeeding five years, after which only Imperata would grow on the site. As the forest diminished they had developed techniques for grassland cultivation, involving slashing, burning, and ploughing the sod using cattle. The latter, a recent innovation, replaced a former hoe-based system (canghulan from the Indonesian term for the common work-hoe, cangkul). Grassland cropping could be carried out for up to seven consecutive years, after which three years of fallow would be undertaken to prevent the Imperata from being replaced by short grasses. Dove stated that the Banjarese regarded the grasslands not as a problem, but as one of the solutions to their struggle for existence. This explanation of Banjarese behaviour differs in significant detail from both historical accounts and Potter's observations in the neighbouring valley, the Riam Kiwa. It is none the less illustrative of the kinds of differences that may well exist within quite small areas and forms part of the re-evaluations of grassland-based systems that took place in Indonesia during the 1970s and 1980s.

Indonesian government interest in agriculture in the alang-alang has now declined following the advent of large-scale reforestation projects using the fast-growing tree Acacia mangium. As described in chapter 5, extensive plans were drawn up in the 1980s for the creation of industrial forest estates (HTI), many of them in sheet alang-alang areas, destined for pulp and paper production. Major problems now beginning to surface relate to disputes with local villagers over claims to land in what were officially considered unoccupied grasslands, and the labour force available to work the estates, leading to the use of Javanese workers as also described above. Examining the social impacts of Imperata reforestation is the focus of new research efforts by a number of international agencies.

The occurrence of Imperata cylindrica in Borneo

There is little precise cartographic information about the extent of lalang in Sarawak, but it is not believed to be a major problem. Shim (1993: 23) attributes the absence of large tracts of sheet lalang to the lack of a pronounced dry season: "nearly year-round rains do not allow lalang to reach a fire climax, and it nearly always loses in competition with other weeds." Freeman, in his well-known Iban Agriculture (1955), documented cases where too-frequent cropping by shifting cultivators had led to lalang infestation, which was apparently common in the Kapit district. Padoch (1982b) has questioned the universality of this behaviour among Iban pioneers. As noted in chapter 6, the phase of pioneering shifting cultivation by Iban groups is now over. The only figures available for the extent of grassland 72,000 ha - date from 1974 and include scrub (Hatch, 1982). Shim (1993) believes the actual area of grass to be much smaller.

In Sabah the figures are also old, giving an area of 155,000 ha in 1970; more than half of this was in the West Coast Residency around Kudat and Kota Belud (Shim, 1993). An examination of recent topographical maps in Sabah revealed much apparently successful reforestation with Acacia mangium in this region. Reforestation is also being tried in another famous lalang area, the Sook Plain, in the Interior Residency (see chap. 8). The formation of this grassland has been well documented as taking place after a fire in 1914, in which all the existing swamp forest was burnt and did not regenerate, the exposed white sand soil being colonized by a mixture of lalang and bracken (Matthews, 1917; Cockburn, 1974; Shim, 1993).1

In contrast to the quite moderate expanses in Malaysian Borneo, the four Indonesian provinces of Kalimantan have been estimated to contain 1.4 million ha of grassland, out of 10.3 million ha in the entire country (Tjitrosoedirdjo, 1993). These figures are drawn from the maps compiled by the Regional Physical Planning Programme for Transmigration (RePPProT) and represent the situation around 1982. Although not all this grass is Imperata, especially in eastern Indonesia, in Kalimantan the grasslands are dominated by that species. South and West Kalimantan are the two provinces in which the human impress upon the land has been most marked. They contain the highest population densities and, perhaps coincidentally, the largest expanses of Imperata cylindrica, although these usually occur in rolling or hilly areas marginal to the main population centres. Alang-alang is estimated by the RePPProT study (1987b) to cover about 17 per cent of the small province of South Kalimantan - about 623,000 ha. This constitutes a grassland area almost twice that of West Kalimantan (340,000 ha), which makes up only 2 per cent of that province (RePPProT, 1987a).

The western foothills of the Meratus mountains (including the Riam Kiwa) and the middle Melawi basin (including the Ela Hulu) stand out prominently for their vast fields of alang-alang (fig. 9.1). In South Kalimantan the grasslands extend almost unbroken in a swathe of more than 300 km from north to south. Many of these areas occur in a low-rainfall belt in the lee of the Meratus mountains, but climate is not a sufficient explanation because the grass also exists in higherrainfall areas. It becomes prominent again east of the mountains, and occurs in patches up the east coast into East Kalimantan, for example near Samarinda. In West Kalimantan the patches tend to be more scattered, but notable areas include an extensive and compact block in the middle Melawi (about 150,000 ha) and a dense mosaic of grassland interspersed with swamp forest at Kendawangan in the far south. In Central Kalimantan there are also important stretches of sheet alang-alang in the south near Pangkalan Bun.

Lest the occurrence of such grassland becomes exaggerated, there are many areas throughout Kalimantan where the map sheets (at a scale of 1:250,000) indicate either no Imperata or very small areas only. Most of the mountainous interior and the swampy coast are unaffected. The Land Resources of Indonesia: A National Overview (RePPProT, 1990) does not separate grassland from scrub and shifting cultivation in its vegetation map, thus creating the impression that it is all the same, which is far from being the case. Although the south-east stands out as by far the most prominent grassland district in Kalimantan, it proved impossible to map the alang-alang at a scale small enough to represent the four provinces on one page; in most areas the patches would be too tiny to be visible.

Fig. 9.1 Two grassland areas of Kalimantan (Source: RePPProT, 1987a, 1987b. Map series 1: 250,000, Land Use and Current Forest Status)

On the ground their visibility is not in doubt. The occurrence of such large expanses of sheet alang-alang leads to the question of when and how these landscapes were created. Human activity has certainly been the trigger, but what kind of activity, in what particular cultural or economic circumstances, and over what period? What has been the relevance of particular site features such as climate or soils? Has population pressure, or lack of it, been part of the explanation? Simplistic explanations such as "improper shifting-cultivation practices" will obviously not suffice. Shifting cultivation, in particular circumstances, might be one causal factor among several, but is unlikely on its own to have created the really large expanses of grass. In-depth probing of both contemporary informants and historical sources is necessary to try to tease out the picture. Studies of current usage of the grasslands and the long-term sustainability of present livelihood systems form the other essential component to any study of "criticality."2

The Riam Kiwa and the Ela Hulu: Contrasts and similarities in study sites

There are several fundamental differences between the two areas selected for detailed study. First to be considered is their ethnic mix, relative remoteness, and exposure to outside influences. Although all upland areas in Kalimantan have problems of access in the wettest months, the Riam Kiwa valley and its associated villages, from its period as a princely appanage estate for the Banjarmasin sultanate (pre-1860), have always been within reasonable distance of the centres of administration in South Kalimantan and reported upon regularly. The furthest village studied in detail by Potter is about 140 km by road, east of Banjarmasin. The valley was the site in 1938 of one of the first colonization schemes (precursors of transmigration), bringing Madurese to settle the grassy uplands. During the 1960s, Javanese also began moving into the area - refugees from failed transmigration attempts in the tidal swamps. There remain hill (Bukit) Dayak in the mountainous and forested upper reaches of the river, but indigenous Banjarese are dominant over the rest of the valley, where they have lived in permanent villages for many generations. There are growing minorities of Madurese and Javanese, including spontaneous arrivals joining established friends or relatives. A number of entirely Madurese villages now exist in the lower valley, offshoots of the original settlement with additions from Madura. Although some of the Dayak groups in the mountains still practice animism, the population of the Riam Kiwa valley may otherwise be described as completely Islamic.

The second district is more remote. It lies about 320 km east-southeast of Pontianak (West Kalimantan), the Ela Hulu river forming a tributary of the Melawi. Travel to the area from Pontianak used to be via the Kapuas and Melawi rivers, which would take several days. A road connection between Pontianak and Sintang has improved the situation, but there is no regular public transport beyond the small market town of Nanga Pinoh on the Melawi (also served by light aircraft). Private speedboats and logging trucks provide access, but the former are expensive and the latter unreliable. The area has suffered from isolation, at least in terms of local people's movement to and knowledge of other districts, and in the entry of government services. However, Malay and Chinese merchants have always been active, particularly in the small towns.

If anything, there was more offlcial knowledge of the district in Dutch times, as the "Pinohlands," which formerly belonged to South and East Borneo, were directly administered by the Dutch from 1894. The Ela Hulu lies just outside this region and remained nominally under the Sultan of Sintang, although these Dayak groups were classified by Enthoven (1903) as "Mardaheka," meaning free, as opposed to "Serah" Dayaks, who had closer links with the sultanate, including the need to pay taxes. The population mix now indudes Melayu (Malay) villages along the Melawi river, and Islamicized Dayaks who regard themselves as orang ulu, interior people (Sellato, 1986). In the Ela Hulu itself, people are Limbai, Kenyilu, and Ransa Dayak (Potter, fieldwork, 1992). The villages are long established, with several appearing in Enthoven (1903), which reflects the situation existing between 1885 and 1890 when he observed them in the field. Dayak groups now are nominally Christian, but animistic beliefs and adat rules are still strong.

There are some differences in the condition and age of the grasslands. The lower Riam Kiwa basin appeared to have been largely deforested by 1893, according to the geologist Hooze (1893). A comparison of available maps dated 1926 and 1972 indicated considerable grassland incursion into the upper valley over the latter period. By 1982, when Potter first observed the Riam Kiwa, not only was the alang-alang very extensive, it appeared very well established, with only a few trees able to persist in deeper valleys. Chromolaena odorata, a weed introduced in the 1940s, formed a dense thicket along the forest edge but did not invade the main expanse of grassland. Earlier government attempts at reforestation had left a few straggling eucalypts as survivors. In his description of the neighbour ing Riam Kanan watershed, regarded as a higher priority for reforestation because of the existence of an important reservoir, Dove (1986) noted that Banjarese actively sabotaged the strips of Pinus merkusii planted through the Imperata, because they felt that they would receive no benefit from land planted in trees by the government. Since 1990 the transformation of much of the upper Riam Kiwa district into forest plantations (HTI) has brought about a decline in the area of grassland. It will be interesting to see whether this transformation is permanent.

Although the alang-alang in the Ela Hulu is also extensive, it appears more recent than much of that of the Riam Kiwa. Not only do stretches of secondary forest persist, especially further inland from the Melawi river, but the grass itself is mixed with trees, especially keleban (Vitex pubescens), which has the advantage of being fireresistant. There is no Chromolaena in the area. Village oral history suggests that more grassland began to make its appearance during and after World War II, gradually extending inland from the river. A village 28 km inland, near the forest edge, partially blamed the drought of 1982/83 with its accompanying fires for the present appearance of the landscape. The grassland here seems to lie on the eastward boundary of a gradually extending block. Historical accounts of the 1920s suggested an already alarming extent of grassland (about 200,000 ha) in the whole district of Sintang, though undifferentiated as to precise region. It was claimed that this resulted from the soil-exhausting methods of the people, accompanied by repeated burning (Schuitemaker, 1932).

The final difference between the two research sites is the amount of data available. Potter worked in the Riam Kiwa at intervals from 1983 to 1986, studying a sample of farmers in three villages of different ethnic background and agricultural system: Banjarese, Javanese, and Madurese. The same farmers were visited over four cropping seasons and information was assembled on various aspects of both farm economy and ecology, while historical sources were collected from archives in Holland and Jakarta (Potter, 1987a, 1987b). A short follow-up visit was made to the district in 1991 to observe the impact of reforestation activities.

The Ela Hulu was studied for three weeks in October 1992 (Potter, 1992). Material presented here is drawn from that visit, plus a much briefer and therefore incomplete look at historical sources for the district. For these reasons some questions remain unanswered and the likelihood of errors in interpretation is greater. Nevertheless, it is of interest as an example of a Dayak area on an expanding frontier of alang-alang, and a population whose situation was considered so "critical" during the 1982/83 drought that a large, newly arrived logging company decided to "improve" the existing farming system.

The historical record

Riam Kiwa

Many shifting-cultivation sites, when viewed from the air, reveal a mosaic of forest at differing stages of regrowth and often include small patches of grassland, but really extensive alang-alang fields may be symptomatic of much wider and longer-lasting disturbance. A1though it is known that the western Meratus foothills were used to grow pepper for export in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, forest regrowth would be likely to have later recolonized most former cultivation sites, unless they were deliberately maintained. Cattle in earlier times simply ran free, with individuals being rounded up for slaughter to mark special occasions. The practice of burning the grass at the end of the dry season to provide fresh feed might have been instrumental in removing remaining tree seeds from some areas and ensuring the perpetuation of alang-alang. Hunting activities that focused on deer (not forbidden to Muslims) also involved firing the grasslands. Contemporary hunting practices are of minor importance, but, as both the Riams (Kiwa and Kanan) were apanage lands pre1860 for nobles of the Banjarmasin sultanate, hunting might then have led to annual burning of areas not far from the site of the palace at Martapura. At that time, pressure on the foothills would have been light and some kind of forest cover likely to be retained.

Droughts in the late 1870s, and again in the 1880s, which caused outmigration from the main agricultural district of the Hulu Sungai, probably signalled a build-up of population seeking farming sites in the mountains. Hooze (1893) noted that large parts of "the Riams" were at that time under alang-alang. This was in contrast to the position in 1869, when mining engineer Verbeek (1875) complained of the "extraordinarily luxuriant vegetation" that impeded his survey. Hooze (1893: 22) described "ever-increasing deforestation" caused by the laying out of dry fields "for which over large areas the forest is felled and burnt and by the enormous field and bush fires which in the dry season sometimes cover the whole of the divisions of Martapura and Banjarmasin with smoke." Schophuys (1933) noted the introduction of smallholder cash-cropping, particularly tobacco and pepper, during the late 1880s and early 1890s. Both were grown in a shifting system, with a year or two of rice being followed by some years of tobacco or pepper, until falling yields necessitated relocation. Pepper plants were supported by ironwood stakes, which caused rapid cutting of this tree, once very common at the lower end of the Riam Kiwa valley. Hooze commented that there was little ironwood left along the river, where it had been plentiful a few years before. It is particularly this type of cash-cropping that would leave alang-alang in its wake.

The next big rush of people into the foothills area seems to have occurred from about 1906 (when the last tobacco estate in the Hulu Sungai closed and its accompanying employment ceased), through the drought of 1914, and during World War I, when interruptions to the rice trade brought local shortages. New waves of people, many from the southern Hulu Sungai, sought swidden sites in the uplands. Government officers complained that, unlike the Dayaks, Banjarese would not protect young secondary growth from fire. Vergonwen (1916) noted a "spreading plague of alang-alang," which had occurred over the previous 10 years. Perhaps people were also deliberately assisting the spread of grassland at the time. There were 617 cattle, "running day and night in the alang-alang fields without supervision" (Berkholst, 1913), while seasonal hunting of deer was also practiced. The population outside the mountainous Dayak areas was around 8,500 in 1913, which is below one-third of its present number. Comparison of vegetation maps for the Riam Kiwa dated 1926 and 1972 reveals a notable increase in alang-alang for the upper valley, as secondary forest has gradually been displaced.

It was not entirely a one-way process, however, as large amounts of rubber were planted from about 1913, to be substituted during the 1930s with fruit trees, especially bananas. The Dutch authorities also attempted reforestation, particularly in the upper valley, insisting that shifting cultivators must protect an equivalent area of grassland from fire and seed it with fast-growing trees. Extensive areas of such regrowth were noted in 1938 (Van Soelen and Razoux Schultz, 1938) and it was observed that this offered hope for the future (Wentholt, 1938). Various other controls were instituted, including the creation of a large forest reserve area, in which cutting was to be forbidden, and restriction on further movement of Banjarese up the valley into Dayak lands.

By 1929 people had begun to develop grassland farming techniques. Betterthan-average soils in some hilly areas could be cultiv ated for periods of five years, as against the single year that was normal for forest fields. One Javanese immigrant was seen using a plough to turn the grass sod, an activity quite foreign to Banjarese. In 1938, following the appointment of an agricultural officer to the district, this grassland farming was studied in detail. Gerlach (1938) described a number of different methods, of which the main two were the Banjarese system and the Javanese/Madurese system. The Banjarese would use their scythe-shaped hoe or tajak to peel a layer of grass, together with part of its rhizome system, from the ground. The rhizomes would be broken up and spread over the surface to suppress new grass growth and a catch crop of cassava or rice would be planted. Such activities were usually a prelude to the establishment of pepper gardens, but required fairly intensive weeding for cultivation to succeed. The Javanese would use the cangkul for shallow hoeing, followed by deeper hoeing some days later. This system was usually quite successful in suppressing grass growth. It could be replaced by a plough, enabling a larger area to be worked. Gerlach (1938) stated that Banjarese found the double-hoeing system too labour intensive, but sometimes hired Javanese to do it. These fields were destined eventually to become fruit-tree gardens after a few crops of rice.

In all these cultivations, a permanent crop was envisaged as the end point because that was regarded as proof of land ownership. Among the Dayaks, the original feller of primary forest had ownership rights, but, with the rapid disappearance of the forest and the withdrawal of the original Dayak owners into more remote districts, such rights tended to lapse. Anybody could clear grassland with the approval of the village head. It was up to the individual to prove permanence by growing a long-term crop. Such a way of claiming rights over grassland is still current today, although earlier claims may sometimes still surface.

The establishment in 1938 of a Madurese grassland-based colonization settlement on the best soils began the further ethnic diversification of the area. Madurese were chosen because of their dryfarming experience and it was hoped that such a settlement would prove a useful model for local farmers. Cattle were to be used for ploughing and to assist in fertility maintenance, while it was expected that the steep hillsides would be terraced to avoid erosion (Kolonisatie Bulletin, 1939). Four hundred colonists arrived just before the Japanese invasion. They somehow survived the difficult years of the war, quickly establishing daughter settlements on nearby hills.

During the war the Dutch restrictions on burning and rules for reforestation were forgotten and it is certain that grassland expanded. The weed Chromolaena odorata entered the district during this period and is locally named "Japanese weed." (Dove, 1984, provides discussion of the local mythology surrounding this plant.) It proved capable of shading out the grass on shifting-cultivation sites and, being easy to clear, was seen as a boon by farmers. Zaman gerombolan (bandit time) followed during the 1950s, when the upper valley was partly depopulated. People were forced to move to nearby towns, their villages being destroyed so that Ibnu Hajar's men could not find sustenance there. Some more remote villages never regained their former populations. Reduction of human pressure on the area may have produced a resurgence of secondary forest, which disappeared again as numbers built up. The likely importance of particular dry years, such as 1972 and 1982/83, in extending the grassland through more widespread burning must also be borne in mind.

The major fact to emerge from the historical record of the Riam Kiwa is that whereas the lower valley has experienced long-term development of alang-alang, which has remained stable as the predominant vegetation, the secondary forest-grassland boundary in the upper valley may well have fluctuated from 1926 to 1972, though showing an overall retreat of forest. Although successful reforestation can lead to a shading out of alang-alang, this must be constantly maintained. Human pressure has also fluctuated, with the indigenous population now stable or declining. Population increases have certainly occurred in the lower valley, in particular through the influx of Madurese and Javanese. In areas of the upper valley directly affected by logging operations, there was an in-migration along the logging roads, when the extraction was at its peak, of forest workers, sawmill employees, and pioneer agriculturalists, many of whom lived in grassland villages. When Potter visited one such village in 1983, there was much new activity, with a large sawmill in full operation and farmers opening the alang-alang along the road and planting rice and cash crops such as peanuts, pepper, and bananas. Many transmigrants were among these pioneer settlers. In 1991 the concessionaire and the sawmill had gone and the bridges on the road had been allowed to fall into disrepair. A few farmers still persisted but the ephemeral settlers had disappeared, as had the accompanying shops and other services. The alang-alang had returned and all was quiet.

Ela Hulu

In his two-volume work on West Kalimantan, Enthoven (1903) includes a detailed study of the Melawi basin, with all of its major tributaries, which he visited at some time between 1885 and 1890, then updated with statistical and other information to about 1896. Of interest is his description of the vegetation in the Ela Hulu, which he noted as being "low forest and shrubs," with scattered ladangs. The original forest was said to have all disappeared as a result of shifting cultivation. However, high forest was still common nearby in the Schwaner mountains. There was no mention of alang-alang in the area, although Malay settlers along the river were said to use the grass for roof thatch, whereas Dayaks preferred bark or ironwood shingles. Also of importance is the fact that both Dayaks and Melayu were reported to raise cattle, which were not tended but allowed to run free, finding feed on the outskirts of the village. Although deliberate creation of grassland fields was not discussed, it is likely that this was in fact done, unless the grass simply grew in open areas around the villages. The Melawi was said to be unusual in its large number of cattle, around 1,400 in total. The middle Melawi was described as the best populated section of the region, with fertile soil and generally good harvests. The Limbai Dayaks were known for both their dry padi cultivation and their collection of forest products such as rattan, gaharu, and illipe nuts, which were sent to Nanga Pinch. Hunger years did nevertheless occur; Enthoven reported that there had been two of these in the 10 years prior to his visit, in which people had died of want.

Cattle-raising, associated as it is with annual burning of alang-alang, has been blamed for the present extent of grassland in the Ela Hulu and similar areas of the middle Melawi. Both Uljee (1925) and Ozinga (1940) wrote of cattle-raising as being unimportant in West Kalimantan except in a very few areas, in which the Pinoh lands and part of the Melawi stand out as exceptions. Uljee specifically noted that the only place where one would find grass sufficient for cattle feed was on a few sites where garrisons had formerly existed; the Pinoh lands was one such area, but the middle Melawi was not. In 1932 the Dutch administrator Scheuer (1932) considered there was not much worth reporting about cattle-raising, although the Melawi and Pinoh lands had the largest livestock numbers for the Sintang district - a total of 1,863. Before the 1930s depression, Madurese regularly brought cattle into the area, travelling in their own boats from Madura. A further clue is furnished by Kuik (1936) who noted that the largest amount of rubber for the Sintang region was in the Melawi district, chiefly in the hands of Melayu. Cattle were allowed to run free in the rubber holdings, which stretched along the river banks. The inference is that the cattle were mainly owned by Melayu, because all writers noted by way of contrast that Dayaks possessed pigs. These circumstantial pieces of evidence support the stories of local informants that the spread of the grasslands as far as the Ela Hulu, which local Dayaks blame on the cattle-keeping practices of the Melayu, is a comparatively recent phenomenon.

Current farming systems in the alang-alang

The Riam Kiwa

In fieldwork between 1983 and 1986, Potter studied the agricultural practices of Banjarese, Madurese, and Javanese farmers in the Riam Kiwa valley. Although the Banjarese system was forest based and technically shifting cultivation (fallow periods being longer than cultivation periods), it was fairly intensive, with a subsistence crop of dry rice being followed by cash crops of peanuts and bananas before the plot was fallowed for about five years. Some areas of grassland were utilized by wealthier farmers, who hired Javanese ploughing teams to prepare the land, there being no cows in the village owned by Banjarese. One or two Javanese were also trying patches of wet rice in the narrow valleys, but there was no Banjarese involvement in sawah cultivation. The resources of the grassland were recognized but not generally utilized; yields were better from the forest plots, and clearing and working them was easier with existing tools of axe and digging stick, especially as Chromolaena odorata formed a major part of the secondary regrowth and was easily disposed of. With alternative sources of funds in the dry season, such as smallscale mining and collection of forest products, the Banjarese were not inclined to undertake the heavy work of preparing sawah.

The Javanese and Madurese systems, as found in their villages, were both entirely grassland based; they made use of plough cattle to clear the grassy uplands for dry rice and to make sawah. In addition, the Javanese ploughed large expanses for peanuts. The Madurese concentrated on bananas and other tree crops such as cloves and had much smaller field-crop areas. They worked their sawah more intensively, with the narrow valleys being carefully terraced.

The time that has elapsed since the formation of the Madurese and Javanese villages enables some conclusions to be drawn regarding the long-term sustainability of permanent farming on the alang-alang lands. In the Madurese village, founded in 1941, soil fertility had declined drastically on the slopes, so that yields of dry rice, even with fertilizer, were very low. Although the wet-rice fields remained productive, areas of sawah were limited and most families had to sell bananas and buy rice, in addition to other household needs. The concentration on tree crops reduced the dangers of erosion, although this was still visible when sloping areas were ploughed up. The intensive nature of the farming system had effectively removed the alangalang, so that both cattle feed and roof thatch had to be brought from further afield. In this situation, alang-alang was perceived to be a valuable resource. Although the system was reasonably sustainable, especially when banana prices were high, population increase meant that the next generation would have to seek a new village site further up the valley. Continuous spontaneous migration from Madura had ensured a proliferation of such settlements.

The Javanese system, based on field crops, left much larger areas of sloping land exposed to the new season's rains, because the ploughing technique involved turning the grass sod, leaving it exposed to the elements for a month, then removing the rhizomes and ploughing a second and third time until the seed was able to be sown into the bare soil. Under these conditions erosion could be severe as the protective function of the grass was removed. The Javanese settlement was started in 1965; once again fertility had declined considerably on the flatter lands closer to the village, so that fertilizer was necessary to produce dry rice. On the slopes, yields were maintained through periodic fallowing, which restored the grass cover, and fertilizer was not needed. The rice-peanuts rotation assisted in maintaining nitrogen supplies. This village was relatively well off in terms of availability of both land and cattle but its population was increasing quickly, again largely through spontaneous migration, so that position may not continue for long. It was also being pressed by new Madurese villages encroaching or. its hill lands. Although the Javanese have maintained the alang-alang through the fallow system, and supported more cattle than their Madurese equivalents, the amount of soil erosion was worrying as it seemed an inevitable part of the system, which might lead to drastic declines in future crop yields. No terracing had appeared and no erosion protection measures were undertaken, other than small slits made along the slope to enable the water to escape more quickly.

Comparative soil analyses in the three villages revealed that the hill slopes under scrub and secondary forest had by far the best nutrient status: pH values reached 6 or more, organic carbon lay between 9 and 11 per cent, and there were high levels of exchangeable bases. Samples from the alangalang showed a pH status uniformly below 5, with the short grasses in the Madurese village dropping to less than 4. Organic carbon levels had all declined to around 3-4 per cent, although fallowing of the grass did raise these somewhat. A few samples were taken under Chromolaena; the differences between that shrub and Imperata were not significant. A recent African study found considerable improvements in the nutrient status of soils under Chromolaena. It was claimed that the soil fertility was greater than that under undisturbed forest, including a rise of two points in the pH (de Foresta and Schwartz, 1991). The authors were sanguine about the possibilities of the new invasion (which had occurred much faster than in the Asian tropics) for the maintenance of the shiftingcultivation system. The problem with Chromolaena in Kalimantan is that it can shade out alang-alang but cattle cannot eat it, so there is a basic conflict between the needs of the farmers and those of the graziers operating within and at the periphery of the grassland ecosystem.

A final aspect of the study of the three agricultural systems was a comparison over three years (1984-1986) of the incomes available to the sample farmers from all sources, including the imputed value of the rice produced for household consumption. These incomes were categorized according to the poverty levels in the well-known model of Sayogyo (1975) in which income was converted to rice equivalents available for consumption. The overall results showed marked decreases in the proportions of the sample populations defined as being "in poverty" in all three villages, although the Javanese showed the most marked improvement. There was little difference in poverty levels between the least intensively farmed village of Banjarese shifting cultivators and the most intensively farmed settlement of the Madurese. The Banjarese received less income from agriculture, but compensated by involvement in a range of off-farm activities.

These results indicate that, using purely economic indicators, farming systems that are alang-alang based can be "successful," if raising their populations above recognized poverty levels is considered a sign of success. They also show that shifting-cultivation systems can do about as well as the permanent settlements if their participants are involved in cash-cropping and can secure reliable sources of non-farm income. The ecological cost of the systems is not included in those figures nor are the differences in population density or rates of population increase. All are at risk from drought because their cultivation is entirely based on natural rainfall; thus they might expect to have severe fluctuations in income, somewhat offset by "savings" in the form of permanent tree crops, cattle, or sawah. Unfortunately, shortages of land such as now occur in the Madurese settlement have tended to nullify the benefits of such savings. In the Banjarese village there is no real population pressure but higher all-round levels of risk (in collection of forest products and in mining, the major alternative income sources). Farming the boundary of the forest and grassland has been made easier by the existence of Chromolaena, which now prevents the grass from extending into the forest.

The Ela Hulu

The Dayak farmers of the Ela Hulu are basically shifting cultivators who have been gradually running out of forested land suitable for making swidden, as the alang-alang takes over more of the available area. Although officials have stated that the problem is due to population pressure, this does not appear to be the case. Village populations are basically stable, with little movement in or out, and rates of increase have declined since the enthusiastic adoption of family planning in the district. The prevalence of alang-alang varies as one moves south from the Melawi River, with the greatest incidence nearer to the river. Along the river are Melayu villages, all with large numbers of cattle and permanent rubber gardens, in addition to dry fields, which must be fenced to keep the cattle out. Here the Imperata has been intensively cropped and appears to be giving way to short grasses in some places. Dayaks also possess cattle but they are not grown for sale as in the Melayu villages; they are regarded more as capital to be used up on special occasions such as a wedding, and their numbers are not so great as to warrant fencing of fields. Cattle are allowed to run free but often graze quite close to their owners' villages. Although Dayaks see the fires set by cattle owners as the main reason for the rapid spread of alang-alang, they say they do not have time to tether or otherwise care for their cattle so let them run on their own.

Shifting-cultivation systems in this part of West Kalimantan are aimed basically at production of upland rice for subsistence purposes. Yields tend to be low and variable, much affected by periodic drought. Even in nearby forest villages, where fallows were longer, yields were said to be sufficient to feed a family in only about three out of every five years. The short fallow periods, now common throughout the Ela Hulu as a result of the scarcity of good forest, have exacerbated the problem, although plots were seen that had been under fallow for 12 or more years. The likelihood of swidden fires escaping and causing wider conflagrations is enhanced by the prevalence of so much inflammable grass. There is talk of reactivating old adat sanctions, including fines once levied on those who allowed fires to escape. Although nearby villages in Central Kalimantan turn their plots over to rattan after working them for about two years, rattan cultivation is not common in the Ela Hulu. Rubber may be planted on the swidden, depending on the location of the plot, but rubber gardens are often in a separate area close to the village. This is especially the case in those villages nearer to the Melawi River and further from the forest edge. Other villages rely on income from the collection of forest products, formerly aloe wood or gaharu (Aquilaria sp.) and now especially ironwood (Eusideroxylon zwageri), for which there is a controlled market in the district centre. Other timbers are also collected and sold, primarily for house and boat construction, and illipe nuts are harvested following the irregular fruiting of this tree. A number of forest animals and birds are hunted.

Here and there through the rolling grass-covered hills, patches of remnant forest may be seen; this is hutan mali, in which some untoward event such as a death has at one time occurred. People would not dare to touch that forest for fear of bringing bad luck upon themselves. Miraculously these forest patches have survived the dry season conflagrations that sweep the area and have destroyed many rubber trees.

Recent change in the Riam Kiwa

No longer is there such a push to create agricultural settlements on the grasslands, at least in South Kalimantan. The reason is that priority has shifted to reforestation, to the creation of industrial forest plantations of fast-growing species, mainly Acacia mangium. Although all forest concessions must devote a section of their land to replanting, private concerns outside the concessions, particularly on the Imperata grassland, have also been encouraged. Such estates have recently been established along the upper Riam Kiwa, where they have resulted in much anxiety among shifting cultivators. The people are under pressure from forestry authorities because fires are forbidden close to the new plantation areas, making it necessary for farmers to travel much further to find suitable sites. The boundaries of the estates have been drawn to exclude permanent village cultivation, but the grasslands, regarded by farmers as a kind of common for sporadic use, have been removed from village control. As one farmer commented, "The trees are healthy but the people are sick at heart." Some arson had been reported where plantations lay close to villages and such responses are likely to recur. Considerable stretches of these forests were destroyed by fire during the drought of 1991; whether deliberate human action was involved is not known, but a lack of any feelings of responsibility by local people toward forest protection seemed very clear.

Recent change in the Ela Hulu

A large nearby logging company has been attempting to change farming systems in the Ela Hulu district through a government-supported project called HPH Bina Desa Hutan ("Concessionnaires rehabilitating forest villages"). Management of the logging company, whose northern boundaries in part correspond with the forest/grassland edge, felt concern at the likely extension of alang-alang into "their" forest and determined to introduce permanent farming systems, presuming shifting cultivation to be responsible for the grassland. Staff also believed that new farming techniques were necessary to assist the people, whom they had found suffering from food shortages during the 1982/83 drought. A demonstration plot of irrigated sawah was established and some families were granted small areas on which to try the new technique. All inputs, such as improved seed, hoes, fertilizer, and pesticide, were supplied by the company. Outside the wet-rice lands, more extensive areas were set aside for dry rice close to the main settlements in the valley. Again, farmers were provided with free inputs but they had to clear the grassland themselves, using hoes. The main characteristic of the system was that it was paternalistic, with farmers not being involved in making the important decisions and simply being passive recipients of large amounts of seed, fertilizer, and pesticides. Yields on these dry fields are higher than on the traditional swiddens, but only because of the fertilizer inputs. After the rice harvest, banana, corn, and cassava are usually planted.

This system is now five years old. Farmers appreciate not having to walk several kilometres to reach their plots, but report reduced food security owing to the difficulty of clearing a large enough area of grassland to feed their families. Weeds are also very prevalent and occupy much time and effort. The labour situation that has developed to work these lands is leading to growing inequities in the villages. The owners of the rice plots are increasingly the wealthier villagers, who hire others to carry out the back-breaking hoeing, planting, and weeding as day labourers. This at least secures the labourers' food, but means they are no longer landowners, as in the more egalitarian swidden system. Some groups within the villages are beginning to rebel against these changes, with a move to abandon the new system and return to the old, which involves an active search for suitable forested swidden sites. It is planned to open some of these in an area of the Bukit Baka/Bukit Raya National Park, which also borders the district, even though such activity is illegal.

The Natural Resources Management Project (NRMP), a joint USAID/Indonesian government initiative, although primarily interested in park management and improved logging systems, is attempting more of an agroforestry approach, encouraging tree crops, napier grass enrichment of alangalang pastures, and reduced reliance on chemical inputs. It is working with the logging company staff, while aiming to shift the emphasis from paternalism. The villagers are primarily interested in food security and do not yet distinguish the activities of the second project from the first. Although the philosophy of the NRMP is more geared to ensuring a sustainable system, it is unlikely to have much impact because it has not become involved with the basic problem of rice production. The system as introduced through the HPH Bina Desa Hutan programme does not appear sustainable and already has produced reaction from villagers who believe in the greater productivity and usefulness of swiddens. It seemed to Potter that more study of the cattlebased systems and provision of alternative methods of husbandry to cut down on grassland fires might be a way to stop the spread of alang-alang while at the same time allowing the villagers to evolve their own changed farming systems, as change there must be. Although the NRMP has briefly attacked the fire problem, it has been done from the point of view of fires escaping from farms, rather than burning for cattle feed. Given the already large expanse of grassland, some permanent farming and animal husbandry techniques will have to evolve, but not necessarily along the lines tried so far. Forest plantations have been tried further along the Melawi and provide another technique for managing the grassland environment, but are again likely to produce land-use clashes with existing interest groups.


The areas of extensive Imperata cylindrica grassland in modern Borneo might well be viewed as a transitional land-use type, where past methods of agriculture (including cash-cropping) or livestock-rearing accompanied by regular burning have resulted in the elimination of forest and the creation of what might appear to outside observers to be a "critical zone" of low fertility and low population. Although local people are aware of the reduced fertility, they find various uses for the grasslands, usually in conjunction with, and complementary to, nearby forests. Permanent farming is possible in the grassland environment and, wherever population pressure increases, the grass may become scarce and more highly valued. Permanent farming systems must, however, be allowed to evolve gradually, as their practitioners sometimes lack the appropriate technology to ensure their immediate success. Whereas some shifting-cultivation systems include grassland creation, either deliberately or inadvertently, others do not. Site features such as soil or rainfall conditions (especially severe droughts) might also be responsible. Weinstock (1990: 60) has noted that poor logging practices not followed by reforestation can also lead to grassland creation. He stated that "available studies of Imperata are based more upon guesswork and anti-shifting cultivation bias than on fact."

Governments are particularly guilty of such bias; attempts to eliminate shifting cultivation through forced and paternalistic conversion of its practitioners to "improved" systems are likely to fail, as are reforestation projects that ignore existing uses of the grass. The longterm success of reforestation projects is not yet assured, but some permanent restoration of tree cover, particularly in conjunction with the evolution of local agricultural systems, certainly seems possible. There is already a history of indigenous evolution of agro-forestry systems in Kalimantan. Allowing control of trees to be in the hands of local people would be one way of assisting the success of reforestation projects. Despite the increasing rates of forest conversion in Borneo, it would also appear unlikely for the net result of all these conversions to be grassland, given the long period over which the existing grassland has developed and the generally high rainfall in Borneo, which, despite the impact of drought, would in many areas tend to support scrub or degraded forest rather than grassland. Increased population pressure would, in general, be more likely to eliminate the grass than to perpetuate it.


1. This case is also discussed in chapter 8 in connection with the impact of fire.
2. Work described here between 1984 and 1986 formed part of a project carried out by Potter and sponsored by LIPI and Gadjah Mada University, Yogyakarta, Indonesia. It is partly reported in Potter (1987a, 1987b). Subsequent updating has been done independently by Potter.

(introductory text...)

Levels of urbanization
The major urban centres of Borneo
Poverty and social welfare

Following the brief introduction to this topic in chapter 3, here we will deal more specifically with the nature of the urban places that have developed in the region, with urban-rural relationships, and with the question of poverty, both urban and rural.

Levels of urbanization

Before it is possible to discuss trends in the proportion of the population residing in urban areas of Borneo and Peninsular Malaysia, it is necessary to examine the definitions of "urban" as employed by the two countries. Malaysia uses a population of 10,000 within a gazetted administrative area, whereas Indonesia adopts a more complex set of criteria, including a population density of over 5,000 per km2, less than 25 per cent of the population engaged in agriculture, and possession of a number of "urban" facilities. The fact that definitions differ between the two countries, and that both were adopted only at the 1980 censuses, replacing earlier criteria, means that accurate comparisons in time and space are difficult. Both are considered to understate actual levels of urbanization or city-like living conditions (Ko, 1991; Hugo, 1993).

The boundaries that have been used to demarcate cities, or city cores, or "townland" have also varied over time. Although this is a common problem for urban studies, it would appear that many of the Malaysian cities are "underbounded," which greatly understates their current size, whereas the Indonesian authorities have been more liberal in providing their cities with wider boundaries within which to grow, including some rural lands (Wood, 1985; Mohd Yaakub Hj. Johari and Baiyah Ag. Mahmon, 1989; Samad Hadi, 1990; Ko, 1991). The Indonesian situation presents less of a problem for the major cities, because "rural" components are separated. There is a difficulty, however, in identifying the precise size of smaller towns because they are included in the urban population of larger regencies (kecamatan).

Bearing the above caveats in mind, some generalizations can none the less be made. First, levels of urbanization, although increasing in all of the territories under study, are in most cases below the average for both Malaysia and Indonesia, the core areas of which are more urbanized than are the frontiers. Kalimantan had 27.5 per cent of its population in urban areas in 1990, compared with 35.6 per cent for Java and 30.1 per cent for Indonesia as a whole. The overall Kalimantan rate disguised marked contrasts, however, from a low 17.6 per cent in Central Kalimantan to 48.9 per cent in East Kalimantan. The latter has the highest urbanization rate for any Indonesian province outside of Jakarta (Sensus Penduduk Indonesia, 1990). Figures for Malaysia, using the 10,000 population cut-off rate with restricted boundaries, give a rate of urbanization of 24.4 per cent for Sarawak and 23.4 per cent for Sabah (including Labuan). This is recognized as being far too low. Not only does it seriously understate the size of major towns, it may lead to the odd situation of apparently declining rates of urban growth, as urban cores remain static and populations burgeon in the surrounding suburbs, which are still classified as "rural." It would seem particularly inappropriate for Sabah, where large numbers of foreign immigrants are housed in squatter settlements on the edges of all east coast towns and the capital, Kota Kinabalu. Inclusion of all places over 1,000 (which are defined as "urban small" or "bazaar" and possess some urban characteristics) raises these figures to 28.4 and 27.0 per cent, respectively, which appear more comparable to their Indonesian counterparts, but still understated. Under the latter definition, the overall rate for Malaysia becomes 38.9 per cent, which is still below an "official" rate for 1990 of 43 per cent (World Bank, 1992).

City size

Table 10.1 represents an attempt to derive some reasonably realistic city sizes for the Borneo territories and the eastern littoral of Peninsular Malaysia. In addition to the census figures for the bounded

Table 10.1 Populations of the cities sad towns of Borneo and the eastern Pen insula, 1990/91 (60,000 and above)

City/town Population
Banjarmasin (S. Kalimantan) 444,000
Pontianak (W. Kalimantan) 387,000
Samarinda (E. Kalimantan) 335,000
Balikpapan (E. Kalimantan) 309,000
Kuching (Sarawak)a 267,000
Kota Kinabalu (Sabah)b 250,000
Kuala Terengganu (Peninsula) 229,000
Kota Bharu (Peninsula) 220,000
Sandakan (Sabah)c 175,000
Sibu (Sarawak)d 148,000
Tawau (Sabah)e 116,000
Palangkaraya (C. Kalimantan) 100,000
Kuantan (Peninsula) 93,000
Miri (Sarawak) 87,000
Banjarbaru/Martapura (S. Kalimantan) 85,000
Singkawang (W. Kalimantan) 85,000
Tarakan (E. Kalimantan) 81,000
Kemaman (Peninsula) 72,000
Bandar Seri Bagawan (Brunei) 70,000
Bontang (E. Kalimantan) 67,000
Lahad Datu (Sabah)e 60,000

Sources: Sensus Penduduk Indonesia 1990; Jabatan Perangkaan Malaysia, 1992a, 1992b.

a. Kuching was estimated by Lockard to have 250,000 to 300,000 in the mid-1980s; others have suggested 400,000 (Lockard, 1987; Yusoff bin Hj. Hanifah, 1991). In this table, small settlements and half of the remaining population in the administrative district were added to the "townland" population. This might still be too low.

b. Kota Kinabalu has been described as a "conurbation"; it was suggested that a better idea of the size of the city would be gained if the adjacent area of Penampang was included. The whole administrative area listed under "Kota Kinabalu" plus half of Penampang have been added. Ho Ting Seng suggested a likely population for Kota Kinabalu of 240,000 in 1990 (Ho Ting Seng, 1989; Mohd Yaskub Hj. Johari and Baldev Sidhu, 1989; Samad Hadi, 1990).

c. Sandakan was also described as a conurbation with a dense surrounding population. Many of these people are in squatter settlements of recent migrants. Half of the remaining administrative district population has been added to the total (Teen, 1991).

d. Sibu's population was given by Sutlive (1985/86) as "almost 140,000" in 1984. Here, half of the remaining population of the administrative area has been added to the "townland" numbers; it might be too low.

e. Both Tawau and Lahad Datu have large immigrant populations living in squatter settlements (Tawau 29,000 and Lahad Datu 21,000 in 1988). An allowance has been made for these, plus a small increase (Teen, 1991). urban areas, estimates in the Malaysian literature concerning the "actual" size of the major cities have been taken into account. All "rural" components have been removed from the Indonesian cities.

Although there are still some uncertainties about the sizes of the Malaysian cities, it is believed that the relative order is about correct. It is clear that the four large centres in Kalimantan stand out. East Kalimantan, with its highly urbanized, "enclave" economy, supports two "big" cities in Borneo terms; South and West Kalimantan have one each. Central Kalimantan, with continuing low levels of urbanization, is well down the list. Sarawak and Sabah also support one large centre each; these cities have far less of an industrial orientation than their Indonesian counterparts but play a more prominent role in administration, given the greater relative level of autonomy of the East Malaysian states than of any Indonesian province. Remarkably, only four cities in the Peninsula appear in this table. The two largest, the old state capitals of Kuala Terengganu and Kota Bharu, are both major regional centres. The more southerly places are newer, with growth related to the oil and timber industries. They have not developed a full range of services and occupations, being in the shadow of the large cities of the western Peninsula from which they are accessible in only a few hours by road. The old capital of Pahang state, Pekan, near the mouth of the largest river in the Peninsula, is completely bypassed by the modern transport network and does not appear in the table at all. Thus, of a total population of almost 3.7 million in these 21 towns and cities, 83 per cent is in Borneo, reflecting both the rapid urban growth that has taken place there in recent years and also the dominance of the west coast cities in the modern urban pattern of the more populous Peninsula. Yet the urban system of Borneo, as it now stands, is mainly a product of the present century, whereas both the eastern Peninsular state capitals included in Table 10.1 were important regional capitals in the eighteenth century or earlier, and both had populations between 10,000 and 20,000 before the end of the nineteenth century (Lim Heng Kow, 1978).

The major urban centres of Borneo


There have also been "towns" in Borneo for centuries, at trading points on the mouths of the principal rivers, together with the ancient commercial city of Brunei. Several of these towns, although small in population, had considerable importance in regional trade in the nineteenth century and earlier. Many of them were built largely over the water, or on moored rafts, the most notable example being Kampung Air in what has since become Bandar Seri Begawan (Brunei), the history of which extends back over several centuries. Banjarmasin also certainly existed in medieval times, and around 1900 was probably already the largest town on the island of Borneo. Reid's map (1988) of political centres in South-East Asia around 1600 also shows Kutai (East Kalimantan) and Sukadana (West Kalimantan), but these were of lesser importance. Banjarmasin is the largest, most wateroriented, and most crowded of Borneo's urban places. It is built on swampy ground, on islands, and along a number of canals linking the Martapura and Barito rivers, together with the banks of those streams. Population densities per square kilometre reach over 50,000 in the district known as "Kelayan"; the average for the city is just over 6,000, but that also includes some agricultural land (Penduduk Kotamadya Banjarmasin, 1988). This may be compared with an average density of 3,700 for Pontianak, another longestablished centre.

Banjarmasin grew slowly during Dutch times - a reflection of the more rural orientation of the period. In 1930 it had 66,000 people, but this still made it the largest city in Borneo and the fourth largest in the Outer Islands of the Netherlands Indies (Volkstelling, 1930). The disturbances in the countryside during the 1950s, low rubber prices at the end of the 1960s, and periodic droughts that devastated crops led to post-independence episodes of cityward migration, largely of Banjarese from the main agricultural area of the Hulu Sungai. In more recent times the establishment of woodworking plants, especially for plywood, sawmilling, and furniture, has led to the increased attraction of the city as a place for employment. Javanese and Madurese have added to the existing minority of Chinese, with some Dayaks, Bugis, and Arabs, but the city remains predominantly Banjarese, and Banjarese merchants control much of its trade. Attempts to reduce the power of Banjarmasin by depriving it of part of its hinterland through the creation of the separate state of Central Kalimantan have not, in fact, been successful. The city is still the leading processor of raw materials from the Barito basin, much of which lies in Central Kalimantan.

Although the strictly "urban" area has experienced steady growth rates over the past 20 years (slightly higher between 1971 and 1980), there has not been the spectacular expansion experienced by cities such as Samarinda or Balikpapan. Despite an occasional "palace" of a wealthy merchant and a conscious attempt to upgrade the business district, with recent construction of new hotels and even shopping malls, Banjarmasin remains a lower-middle-class city - not much obvious poverty, but not much wealth either. The damp and swampy conditions and the continuing problem of securing drinking water in the dry season (with related outbreaks of cholera) have led many of the middle-class and wealthier citizens to move to Banjarbaru/ Martapura, where the general environment is more pleasant. This centre (two towns that have coalesced) has important educational, religious, and administrative functions, plus a diamond-cutting industry. An urban corridor has developed along the 40 km stretch of road between the two nodes, with some decentralization of factories, especially those making rattan carpets.

A survey undertaken by Potter in 1991 of 278 migrant households to Banjarmasin from the Hulu Sungai found one major concentration of employment in small-scale sawmilling and furniture works, with some families also living in "barracks" and working as day labourers in bigger sawmills. Woodworking industries, including large plywood mills, are found mainly clustered along the Barito River, whence timber supplies are floated down from Central Kalimantan. South Kalimantan has 16 plywood factories, most of them close to Banjarmasin, but only 6 within the actual city limits. Their predominantly female labour force is drawn partly from Java, but does include some locals. With almost 1,000 labourers each, they provide an important focus. Crumb rubber, chemicals, and cold storage are other major employers (Kotamadya Banjarmasin Dalam Angka, 1991). About 10 per cent of the migrants sampled worked in large factories and were more recent arrivals.

Migrants of longer standing tend to be self-employed, either as merchants or as workers in artisanal or handicraft occupations, usually from their homes. In the more crowded parts of the city, such as the Kelayan area, there are many families of tailors and seamstresses drawn mainly from the northern Hulu Sungai, which has a long tradition of sending its people to urban destinations (Rambe, 1977). A final group, living in recognized higher-status neighbourhoods, are civil servants of Hulu Sungai origin. They have markedly better education levels than most rural migrants, as do the majority of those with above-average incomes, although the reverse is not necessarily true. Some civil servants are poorly paid and live in very small houses, despite their education level.

It was clear from this survey and from general observation in the city that, despite the presence of large establishments, the bulk of employment continues to be found in small-scale, "informal-sector" occupations, including services such as cheap transportation and food vending. However, wood-related industries predominate, with many of the smaller plants being directly dependent on offcuts from the larger sawmills for their raw materials. There is discussion in the recent literature about a downturn in plywood manufacturing in Kalimantan due to shortages of raw materials (Hill, 1992; Indonesian Commercial Newsletter, No. 92, 27 January 1992). This did occur in Banjarmasin during the 1991 drought, because low water levels disrupted supplies from up-river, and log production figures for Central Kalimantan indicate totals still somewhat below average in 19911992 (Kalimantan Tengah Dalam Angka, 1991). However, there does not yet appear to be a serious supply problem. Although South Kalimantan no longer has many forests, Banjarmasin remains well placed to process timber from parts of Central Kalimantan.


Pontianak makes much of the fact that it is one of only a small number of cities in the world located directly on the equator and has attempted, in a limited way, to turn this into a tourist attraction. Although there is much swamp forest close to the city, most of the urban area stands on slightly higher ground, so the population does not have the same direct contact with rivers and canals as in Banjarmasin. Pontianak is a very Chinese city, with nearly one-third of its population of Chinese descent. Other important groups are Melayu (26 per cent), Bugis (13 per cent), and Javanese (12 per cent). Despite the predominantly Dayak population in the interior of West Kalimantan, only 3 per cent of Pontianak's population is Dayak (Kota Pontianak Selayang Pandang, 1989).

In contrast to Banjarmasin, Chinese are very visible in retail trade. According to Kota Pontianak Selayang Pandang, trade (24 per cent), administration (18 per cent), and transport (15 per cent) provided the major sources of income, followed by industry, both large and small, at 12 per cent. In terms of numbers employed, trade was even more prominent, occupying 36 per cent of the population, while administration employed 17 per cent and industry 11 per cent. With the exception of a very poor area across the river from the main city, Pontianak is somewhat more middle class in appearance than Ban jarmasin, though parts of the older market areas around the central core are decidedly run down. Housing tends to be less crowded without the restrictions of Banjarmasin's location, but problems of available water supply are also felt in the dry season.

West Kalimantan has 14 plywood mills, many concentrated at Sungai Raya just outside the city limits, with some moving also into blackboard and particle board; there are more than 50 sawmills (Dep. Perindustrian, pers. comm.; and Potter, fieldwork, August 1993). Most timber supplies are floated down through the Kapuas River delta channels to the city, although there is one plywood factory up-river at Sanggau, and another in the south at Ketapang. The need to bring in additional wood supplies from Sarawak to keep all the factories functioning was noted some years ago (Dines Kehutanan, Kalbar, 1990), and anecdotal evidence suggests that the problem is continuing.' There appear to be far fewer furniture factories and other small-scale woodworking establishments in and around Pontianak than in Banjarmasin. Small handoperated sawmills, so common in Banjarmasin, are not permitted. Rubber processing is, however, prominent, with eight plants in operation (Kotamadya Pontianak Dalam Angka, 1991).

The orange trade is another important activity. West Kalimantan is Indonesia's leading producer of Siam oranges, most of which are exported to Jakarta via Pontianak in refrigerated ships. Recently the industry has been in a state of crisis, because pressure from large cartels and trader-collectors has reduced returns to growers below production costs. Attempts by the Governor of West Kalimantan to secure better conditions for the farmers led to the insistence that all belong to cooperatives. An Orange Trade Co-ordinating Board was set up, under the control of a Jakarta-based private company, which was to maintain price stability. Unfortunately, this has not happened and the quality of the product has declined. Consumers are turning to imported oranges, which are now allowed to enter Indonesia free of control. As stated in a recent survey: "If this situation is allowed to continue, the collapse of orange cultivation ... in West Kalimantan, is just a matter of time" (Indonesian Commercial Newsletter, 10 May 1993).2

Balikpapan and Samarinda

The two "boom" cities of East Kalimantan, with their respective dependence on oil and timber, have experienced rates of growth that have been among the highest in Indonesia (Hugo et al., 1987). Balikpapan was created as the port for the oil fields around the mouth of the Mahakam to the north, early in the twentieth century, whereas Samarinda was the capital of the Kutai sultanate and, although small, was already a place of importance during the nineteenth century.3 Major growth, however, is modern. Starting from a low post-war base - in 1961 Balikpapan had 92,000 inhabitants and Samarinda 70,000 - their populations have increased dramatically in the past 30 years, largely as a result of spontaneous interregional migration. Samarinda has now outstripped Balikpapan and is growing almost twice as fast as Pontianak, which it might well overtake in the next decade. The two cities were studied by Wood (1985) as examples of settlements on the "resource frontier," and by Magenda (1991) in a broader analysis of regional politics focusing on ethnic interrelationships.

Magenda contrasted the relative roles of the Kutai aristocracy and immigrant groups of Bugis (from South Sulawesi), Banjarese (from South Kalimantan), and Javanese in the historical development of the two towns. In the timber and oil boom period of the early 1970s, he noted that a great influx of Javanese migrants considerably changed the ethnic composition of East Kalimantan, undermining the previous dominance of Banjarese in Balikpapan and Samarinda. Bugis also arrived in considerable numbers, augmenting a smaller, long-standing Bugis population, and there were minorities from North and Central Sulawesi. Though there is a lack of detailed census data by ethnic origin, Magenda estimated that Balikpapan in 1991 contained a majority of Javanese (35-40 per cent), 25-30 per cent Bugis, and 20 per cent Banjarese, with declining numbers of Chinese.

Samarinda, on the other hand, is still a predominantly Banjarese city, where they make up 40 per cent of the population, followed by Javanese with 30 per cent; 10 per cent are Bugis and 10 per cent are Chinese and various Dayak groups (Magenda, 1991). The "polyglot" nature of the immigrant population may be appreciated when one examines the ethnic origin of those working for the Kaltim Prima coal mine at Sangatta, north along the Kutai coast. Apart from foreigners, 25 different Indonesian origins were represented among the 2,099 employees, from all regions of the archipelago. The most prominent were Javanese, Bugis, Kutai Malay, and Batak (North Sumatra), with (apart from one Dayak) only the Kutai qualifying for the designation "local" (Klingner, 1994)!


Following the construction of the bridge across the Mahakam River and the upgrading of the road along the river between Samarinda and the former seat of the Kutai sultanate at Tenggarong, the lower part of this 50 km stretch has become one of the most heavily travelled in Borneo. What may be the largest concentration of plywood factories and sawmills in the world is located along the Mahakam within the Samarinda city limits (Schindele and Thoma, 1989). Samarinda produces 72 per cent of East Kalimantan's plywood and 74 per cent of its sawn timber (Kalimantan Timur Dalam Angka, 1991).

Wood studied the city before the bridge was built, at a time when the timber industries were still assessing the impact of the 1982/83 drought and fire. Logs were being brought in from northern parts of the province and from as far away as Sabah, and the future of the plywood industry in Samarinda appeared not at all secure (Wood, 1985: 84). In 1990 there were again complaints of a shortage of logs. Logging sites were located further and further inland, remote from log ponds and rivers, and the timber was becoming too costly to extract. One plywood factory near Samarinda was assisted by the government to import logs from Sarawak, but the economics of this appear doubtful, especially as a recent survey has suggested that the plywood industry in Indonesia is close to reaching its "culmination point," with static production levels.

The imposition of a high export tax on sawn timber, designed to encourage local processing, has led to a 35 per cent decline in output from East Kalimantan. Although there has been some shift into other types of wood processing such as veneer, blackboard, and moulding, these have gone only part of the way to make up for the drop (Kalimantan Timur Dalam Angka, 1991). Although some industrial timber estates (HTI) exist in the area, pulp and paper development is apparently zoned by the provincial government for the northern part of the province, from example, Tanjung Redeb, rather than the Samarinda area (Government of East Kalimantan, 1990a). A 1992 announcement, however, of five new investment projects for pulp and paper in East Kalimantan (no locations specified) raises the question as to whether this prohibition is still active. It would appear unusual if none of them was set up in the Samarinda-Kutai region (Indonesian Commercial Newsletter, 28 September 1992).

A relative decline in plywood and other wood-based industries might see a shift to a wider administrative and service role for Samarinda. Already its image has been improved with the redevelopment of the Mahakam riverfront into a residential and shopping complex, and rehousing the main market. The riverfront from the bridge to the central harbour is being turned into public parkland and its residents rehoused. Squatter settlements noted by Wood have disappeared and the "raw" frontier town atmosphere has gone. Samarinda is well placed as the capital of East Kalimantan to service the rapidly developing area of coastal Kutai.

This region, which includes Sangatta (Kaltim Prima coal), Bontang (LNG), and Muara Badok (fertilizer plant), has the potential for further resource-based industrial growth. Petrochemical development is seen as a major future direction (Government of East Kalimantan, 1990a, 1990b). It is undeniably an enclave development, geared toward meeting national or export, rather than local, needs. Nevertheless, it is this region, and that of Balikpapan, with the greatest concentration of large-scale industry in Borneo, that provides the base for the generation of the highest per capita domestic product in Indonesia. One must ask how much of this wealth becomes available to the ordinary people of the province, and we shall explore this below. A further question is to what extent this resource-based development is sustainable in the longer term. This is a question of direct relevance to Balikpapan.


Balikpapan is basically two cities: that occupied by oil industry executives, both Indonesian and foreign, and the city of the Indonesian workforce, most of them in the petroleum industry. The standard of housing and other amenities for the section on the hill owned by Pertamina, with its tree-lined streets and views across Balikpapan Bay, contrasts strongly with that in the rest of the city where there is much that is poor and run down. This is despite the transformation of the foreshore, which has taken place at the expense of the former squatter housing. Wood (1985) describes the boom in "luxury" housing that accompanied the influx of foreign oil executives who could not all be accommodated in the Pertamina area. It was a shortlived boom because oil exploration decreased, and with it the number of foreign oil contractors operating out of Balikpapan.

With a gradual decline in reserves and current low levels of exploration, changes are likely in the economy of Balikpapan. Although some drilling of exploratory and development wells was carried out in 1992 in East Kalimantan, mainly by foreign firms under contract, it is not known how many of those were in the Balikpapan area. Oil exploration in the immediate future is expected to move towards eastern Indonesia, where deposits have not yet been tapped, or into formations such as the pre-Tertiary, which are increasingly expensive to work. Balikpapan's period of growth might well be over, unless it can diversify into activities other than oil extraction and refining. The share of oil and LNG in the national GDP is expected to decline to 11 per cent by 2000, with much of the contribution coming from LNG (Indonesian Commercial Newsletter, 13 July 1992).

The areas of greatest potential in the near future appear to have moved away from Balikpapan towards the central Kutai coast. Tarakan, in the far north of the province, is like a mini-Balikpapan in its layout, also having a social cleavage between housing on the hill top (some of which is owned by the timber concessionaire, Inhutani) and the rest. Tarakan is known to lie on a rather small oil field, but it provides accommodation for workers on offshore rigs and has some strategic significance because of its location near the border with Sabah.

Kuching, Sibu, and other towns of Sarawak

The somewhat squalid housing conditions of a town like Tarakan are a far cry from the well-organized layout and open spaces of modern Kuching, capital of Sarawak since the founding of the Brooke sultanate. Unlike Kota Kinabalu, the Sabahan capital, and the East Kalimantan cities, Kuching was wholly undamaged in World War II. It retains a crowded, but no longer poor, Chinese-dominated central area and has some pleasant old buildings, notably those that house the excellent Sarawak Museum. To this are added some significant modern buildings and, between 1992 and 1994, the whole riverfront downstream of the market was cleared of "unsightly" small structures and laid out as an attractive promenade.

Kuching is, however, a city without an industrial base, in which a proportion of the wealth derived from logging and oil and gas elsewhere in the state has been devoted to urban "modernization" and large-scale construction. At the end of the 1970s, Leigh (1979: 343) viewed the expenditure on upgrading Kuching's facilities as resulting in "a grossly disproportionate growth of population," with the bureaucracy as the prime beneficiary. There is no doubt that Kuching has been growing quickly over the past 20 years. Lockard (1987) writes of new suburban neighbourhoods and housing projects that have displaced former rubber estates and mangrove swamps on the outskirts of the city, of traffic jams, and of burgeoning suburban shopping centres.

Figures on the distribution of the main ethnic groups in Sarawak as a whole reveal roughly equal numbers of Iban and Chinese (at 29.5 and 28.9 per cent respectively), and 20.8 per cent Malay, 8.4 per cent Bidayuh, and smaller numbers of other indigenous people (Siaran Perangkaun Tahunan, 1990). However, the situation in Kuching is quite different. Although figures are available for only the "urban core," they show that in 1988 the city contained a large majority of Chinese (50.8 per cent) and a high proportion of Malay (37.1 per cent). The Iban population constituted 5.4 per cent and the Bidayuh 3.8 per cent (Yusoff bin Hj. Hanifah, 1991). There is no breakdown by occupation. The 14,000 Iban and Bidayuh in the urban core may be a small proportion of the members of local indigenous groups who are living in the Kuching metropolitan area.

Jomo Sundaram (1992), in his discussion of child welfare in Sarawak, noted the sociocultural upheavals taking place among the "Dayak" communities, leading them to favour an urban lifestyle and reject rural and traditional values. He stated that "The gradual undermining of the rural economy and the displacement of the population do not mean that urban Sarawak is absorbing them satisfactorily." In fact, the contrary is true: "Illprepared for urban life, they can find no other role than as squatters on the fringes of the cities" (Jomo Sundaram, 1992: 249).

Although we lack detailed information for Kuching, Sutlive's (1985/86) research in the second-largest city, Sibu, may provide some guidelines. Sibu is a major river port built where higher ground first touches the Rejang at the head of its delta, and a principal centre of the timber industry, with a crowded and fast-developing commercial centre dominated by new office buildings and hotels. It is no longer a seaport, since logs are rafted or barged past Sibu for loading onto ships at deeper-water anchorages closer to the mouth of the river and below the numerous sawmills that lie between Sibu and these anchorages. Sibu is dominated by Chinese, and is the headquarters of many ChineseMalaysian companies operating in the timber industry, both in Sarawak and further afield.4 However, Sutlive (1985/86) estimated that there were between 10,000 and 15,000 Iban in Sibu in 1984, with occupations ranging from highlevel administrators and professionals to construction workers, prostitutes, and domestics. This is as many as the whole population of Sarawak's one Ibandominated town, Kapit on the middle Rejang River. However, because most possessed little formal education and few marketable skills they tended to receive low wages from both government and private firms. Many were indeed living as squatters. Ko (1991) challenged the idea that squatting was a serious problem in Sarawak's cities, largely because of the state government's policy of demolishing such settlements and resettling the inhabitants. Nevertheless, he supplied a figure of 1,500 squatter dwellings on the urban fringe of Kuching and 500 in Sibu, plus a total of 1,000 dwellings in the core areas of Sarawak's four large cities. In fact it seems that much of Kuching's population is still relatively poor despite the traffic jams and the new five-star hotels.

Yusoff bin Hj. Hanifah (1991), discussing the "informal sector," denies that most of those who work as hawkers or produce foodstuffs and other cheap commodities in cottages or backyard factories are actually the poorest people. The poorest are those who work as labourers or "employees." Although the informal sector is constantly being augmented by newcomers to the city, its success derives largely from the low purchasing power of most of the other inhabitants. He notes that some of Kuching's newer, "modern" facilities have in fact not been utilized, necessitating the conversion of one shopping complex into a hawkers' food centre and another into a night market (Yusoff bin Hj. Hanifah, 1991: 281-282). The picture thus emerges of a city conscious of its image as the state capital, attempting to attract tourists by appearing "Westernized," yet not developing in a manner appropriate to the needs of much of its population.

Sarawak's boom town is in fact Bintulu, a growing industrial complex based on extensive gas supplies, with LNG, fertilizer, and chemical plants, and a wide range of associated activities scheduled, including timber and palm-oil processing and estates for light industry. The natural-gas liquefaction plant is the biggest commercial undertaking in Malaysia, the deepwater port has the second-highest tonnage in the country, and the fertilizer plant is designed to serve not just Malaysia but the whole of the Association of South-East Asian Nations (Jitab and Ritchie, 1991). The complex resembles that at Bontang, East Kalimantan, and the town's growth has been as rapid, with 43,000 people measured as "urban" in 1988. Ko (1991) notes that the new urban area of Bintulu should be 430 km2, not 2 km2, as it is currently defined.

Much older is Miri, the first oil town in Sarawak, with a charac teristic Malaysian core of Chinese shop-houses. Among these a few modern buildings have arisen since offshore oil and gas have led to recovery, following years of depression as land-based oil production declined. New suburbs and schools lie inland of Miri also, but the "boom-town" aspect of central Sibu and Bintulu is lacking.

Urban centres in Sabah: Kota Kinabalu, Sandakan, and Tawau

The towns of Sabah have grown even more rapidly than those of western Sarawak, and squatting on the urban fringes is a more visible phenomenon. Kota Kinabalu itself is almost entirely a modern town, the pre-war colonial settlement having been destroyed in 1945. Even more than Kuching, its modern appearance reflects lavish spending on new construction in consequence of the timber boom of the period since the 1960s. Hotels are prominent, as in Kuching, but the most striking element in this construction is the shining glass tower of the Sabah Foundation (Yayasan Sabah), which dominates the coastal area north of the city.s Between this tower and the core of Kota Kinabalu, however, lies one of the most extensive squatter settlements in northern Borneo.

A conference on urban development policy, held in Sabah in August 1989, identified a number of key issues that the participants believed needed to be addressed as the state moved into the 1990s. Although some of these issues apply also to Sarawak and, to an extent, to the Kalimantan provinces as well, others are more specific to Sabah.

It was concluded that Sabah had a poorly developed and "topheavy" urban system in which the major cities dominated their particular districts at the expense of small towns, with an inadequate spread of basic urban services. There had been little or no coordination between rural, regional, and urban development, with particular projects being implemented without reference to any overall plan. The cities themselves had poor labour absorptive capacities so that, although rural-urban migration was expected to continue, rising unemployment was anticipated. A particular problem in the case of Sabah has been the large number of foreign immigrants - Filipinos as well as Indonesians living in squatter settlements on the edges of the towns. Strains on existing services and environmental and health hazards followed, adding to already existing problems of pollution, poor drainage, and inadequate urban planning (Mohd Yaakub Hj. Johari and Baldev Sidhu, 1989).

Certainly there has been some manufacturing development, although attempts to establish light industrial estates around the main urban centres have not been very successful. There are large numbers of sawmills near the timber-producing areas and plywood manufacturing on a limited scale at Sandakan, Lahad Datu, and Tawau. However, anticipated shortages of sawlogs, despite the recent ban on exports, will limit further development of wood industries until plantation timber becomes available. An integrated pulp and paper mill on the west coast at Sipingan is the first of its kind in Malaysia and in Borneo. It was started using residual timber from the nearby forest but will soon switch to its extensive plantations, in addition to using contracted wood supplies grown by small farmers (Sabah Forestry Department, 1990). Processing of the main agricultural products of palm oil and cocoa is also limited, with large amounts exported in their raw state to the Peninsula. The industrial sector is considered still weak; the proportion of the population employed in manufacturing is below that of Sarawak and also below that of South and East Kalimantan.

The huge illegal population of Filipino and Indonesian migrants is prominent in every sector of the economy, but most particularly in agriculture and forestry, as noted in chapter 5. However, it also features in manufacturing, construction, and retailing, activities typically located in cities. Pang (1990) estimates that the growth rate of the illegal population was 10 per cent between 1980 and 1987, compared with 2 per cent for the local population; by the year 2008 illegals will outnumber locals (Pang, 1990). Tsen (1991) calculated the illegal population squatting on the outskirts of urban areas, mostly on the east coast plus Kota Kinabalu, to be around 140,000 in 1988. A similar number were estimated to be resident on estates (Kler, 1992), with many others in timber camps or on construction sites.

Some of the most interesting studies of urban areas in Sabah concern the ecological and planning impact of this transient squatter population. Ho Tin Seng (1989: 236-237) quotes the following examples:

In Sandakan, a whole stretch of swamp land and river banks just a few miles from the town centre has been "swallowed" up by squatter settlements causing pollution and other problems to the nearby housing estates . . .

One of the more notorious transient settlements in Tawau is known as Kampung Titingan or Icebox, and sits on about five acres of coastal land which could be developed into fishponds, or a deep sea port. This settlement, occupied by nearly 10,000 transients, has spilled over to the nearby river which is being polluted ... Serious fires have at times swept through this settlement, razing large numbers of the houses and causing loss of life.

In Kota Kinabalu, pollution from the nearby settlements in Pulau Gaya not only disturb the delicate ecological balance but contribute to the slow growth of the tourism industry.

Tsen (1991) goes further and acknowledges that a proportion of the squatter settlements in Sabah are home to local rural-urban migrants. Despite government regulations banning further construction of squatter housing, and some demolitions, the settlements have grown rather than diminished. Although the federal government is responsible for policy on illegal workers (and it is acknowledged that the estate sector could not operate without them), it is considered that the two groups of squatters represent different problems. Tsen (1991) suggests that plans for improvement of the settlements must be incorporated within urban budgets, while at the same time more attention should be given to provision of employment in the rural areas to reduce ruralurban flows. The proliferation of squatter settlements in Sabah is obviously a symptom of high levels of poverty, of both immigrants and ethnic Sabahans, to which topic we now turn.

Poverty and social welfare

As with "urbanization," "poverty" is defined differently by Indonesia and Malaysia.6 Using the relatively simpler Malaysian approach, absolute poverty is measured on the basis of poverty line income (PLI), defined as "the minimum requirements for food, clothing and shelter and other regular expenditures that are necessary to maintain a household in decent standards of living" (terms are not defined). The PLI is adjusted for differential living costs between the regions of Malaysia, so that it is higher for Sabah and Sarawak than for the Peninsula. For 1990 it was set at M$544/month for a household size of 5.4 in Sabah and M$452 for a household size of 5.2 in Sarawak. Rural mean income was estimated to be 60 per cent and 54 per cent, respectively, of urban income in the two states (Government of Malaysia, 1991b: 100).

In Indonesia a number of different poverty measures have been proposed, beginning with the well-known estimates of Sayogyo (1975), in which income was measured in terms of rice-purchasing power. The poverty line ("poor" households) was set at 320 kg of milled rice equivalent (mre) per household per year in rural areas, and 480 kg in urban areas. Households receiving an income below 240 kg mre in rural areas and 320 kg mre in the cities were described as "very poor." Such a measure might have been suitable in rural Java perhaps up to 1970, but it has been argued that, especially in urban areas, people today have a very different perception of "needs." Although satisfaction of basic food requirements remains important (and the actual mix of foods may be more varied), other essential expenditures will also be made, even by the poorest. It is claimed that Sayogyo's 50 per cent differential in living costs between urban and rural areas is too high, while differences in prices between different regions of the country must also be taken into account.

Booth (1993) and Bidani and Ravallion (1993) have discussed a number of other indices put forward, including those of the World Bank (1990) and the most recent BPS (Central Bureau of Statistics) estimates. In 1992, for the first time, BPS made figures available by province for the proportion of the population in poverty. The basis of the BPS poverty line is the cost of purchasing 2,100 calories of essential foods, to which are added a number of other items such as rent, fuel, clothing, transport, and schooling, again kept to lowest levels.

Bidani and Ravallion (1993) have followed the BPS in choosing a "reference food bundle" of items commonly consumed by the poor that would yield 2,100 calories. A person is deemed "poor" if unable to purchase such a bundle, which is valued at local prices in each region. They then sought the typical value of non-food spending by a household just capable of reaching the 2,100 calorie limit. This was again locally priced and added to produce a composite poverty line more accurate in regional terms. It was discovered that urban prices were only 12 per cent above rural and that six regions had higher food prices than Jakarta, including most of Kalimantan. This measure will be used in this chapter, as it is more sensitive to regional differences in the incidence of poverty in Indonesia. The overall monthly per capita poverty line income (urban + rural) varied from Rp20,010 in West Kalimantan to Rp16,343 in South Kalimantan, or Rp100,051 and Rp70,275, respectively, on a household basis (Bidani and Ravallion, 1993).

Patterns of rural and urban poverty in East Malaysia

In 1990 the incidence of poverty in Sabah was given as 34 per cent, with rural levels reaching 39 per cent and urban 15 per cent. Figures for Sarawak were a much more moderate 21 per cent overall, with rural poverty 25 per cent and urban 5 per cent. When examined by ethnic group (or at least Bumiputera7 against Chinese), Bumiputera were seen to be still experiencing the higher levels of poverty - 41 per cent in Sabah and 29 per cent in Sarawak. In contrast, only 4 per cent of Chinese fell below the poverty line in each state.

Although the rural poverty figures are far above urban levels, it is worth remembering that the "underbounded" nature of the cities means that people living in urban fringe areas, many of whom are housed in squatter settlements, are automatically classed as rural. Hence it is very likely that urban poverty is considerably higher, and rural poverty somewhat lower, than the figures indicate. The Bintulu study mentioned by Ko (1991) found that most of the poor were located outside the Bintulu Townland but within the "real" urban area, and had a poverty incidence of 21 per cent, which was much higher than official levels.

Whereas both rural and urban poverty have steadily declined in Sarawak since 1976, and this trend is expected to continue, in both numbers of poor households and percentage of the population included, in Sabah the situation is different. Both the percentage of those in poverty and the numbers of poor households actually rose between 1984 and 1987. By 1990 the percentages had marginally improved but numbers of poor households continued to grow (Government of Malaysia, 1989, 1991b). While the Mid-term Review of the Fifth Malaysia Plan (Government of Malaysia, 1989) identified padi farmers, rubber and coconut smallholders, fishermen, and estate workers as groups prone to poverty, a local study in Sabah added shifting cultivators and general agricultural workers to the list (Mohd Yaakub Hj. Johari, 1991). Given that the poverty line is based on money income, and that returns from small-scale agriculture and fishing in particular are notoriously low, these concentrations are not surprising. However, one might query the appropriateness of such income measures with groups such as shifting cultivators and padi farmers, who may not "feel" as poor as their income might indicate if they are able to secure their own subsistence.

It is notable that estate workers appeared more prominently in the poverty figures for Sabah than for Sarawak. This highlights the difference between the two states in their use of foreign labour, with 90 per cent of Sabah's estate workers being Indonesian or Filipino (Kler, 1992). As Kow (1992) has noted, wage levels in the Sabah estate sector are low, which is one of the reasons local farmers are not interested in employment there. A survey carried out in 1988 indicated that 86 per cent of the 49,000 workers on 280 agricultural estates earned between M$101 and M$300 per month. Although these wages might appear reasonable to Indonesian or Filipino workers when compared with their rates back home, they automatically put the immigrants below the poverty line in Sabah, which has a much higher cost of living (Kong, 1992). In the urban areas of Sabah, Zulkifly Hj. Mustapha (1989: 268) found a proliferation of informal-sector activities, which he ascribed to "an employment crisis due to the slow speed of labour absorption and low rate of growth in modern urban economic activities, particularly in relation to industrialization, and the high rate of immigration (illegal migrants) and internal population mobility (ruralurban migration). " Although he noted that most illegals moved into informalsector occupations, all ethnic groups have apparently been involved. However, there is no doubt that the inflow of large numbers of poor and largely unskilled migrants from Sabah's neighbours has placed enormous stress on urban facilities and helped to maintain the persistently high levels of poverty, both urban and rural.

Patterns of rural and urban poverty in Kalimantan

The proportions of the population of Kalimantan that fell below the poverty line in 1990 are shown in Table 10.2, based on Bidani and Ravallion (1993). Although these figures are not strictly comparable with those from the Malaysian territories, they are at least based on a similar set of basic expenditures (according to the norms prevailing in each society) and adjusted for regional living costs. Whereas, in general, Indonesian poverty levels have been falling over time (using Sayogyo's measurements for example), no temporal sequence is possible with these figures. They do, however, give credence to the belief expressed by Booth (1992a, 1993) that the highest poverty incidence is no longer to be found in Java, but is found in parts of the Outer Islands. The rates for West Kalimantan are second only to East Nusa Tenggara (Irian Jaya and East Timor being omitted), with Maluku and south-east Sulawesi not far behind. These other provinces are in eastern Indonesia, which has had high poverty levels for some time.

Table 10.2 Proportions of the population below the poverty line, Kalimantan provinces (1990)

Province Urban + rural Urban Rural
W. Kalimantan 33.8 14.7 38.7
C. Kalimantan 18.7 12.3 19.9
S. Kalimantan 8.7 0.9 11.5
E. Kalimantan 14.0 4.9 22.5

Source: Bidani and Ravallion (1993).

Table 10.3 Indices of poverty at the food poverty line,alimantan (1990), adjusted for cost diferentials

Province Urban + rural Urban Rural
W. Kalimantan 21.1 6.2 24.9
C. Kalimantan 9.9 4.1 11.1
S. Kalimantan 3.1 0.1 4.2
E. Kalimantan 4.7 0.4 8.7

Source: Bidani and Ravallion (1993).

The levels in rural West Kalimantan are surprising, but reflect the local high food prices. On the food poverty measure alone, without the addition of other costs, 24.9 per cent of the population of rural West Kalimantan and 11.1 per cent in Central Kalimantan are unable to afford the minimum level of 2,100 calories (Table 10.3). At the other extreme, the people of urban areas in South and East Kalimantan have few problems in meeting calorie requirements.

Given that 75 per cent of West Kalimantan's population is still engaged in agriculture, forestry, or fishing, and 71 per cent of that in Central Kalimantan (Statistik Indonesia 1992), it is not surprising that incomes are low. The decline in rural poverty in Java has largely come about because of the increased availability of non-agricultural wage employment. Booth (1993: 80) comments that in the Outer Islands "much of the income accrues from particular sectors whose linkages with the rest of the regional economy are quite limited." Thus developments such as mining provide few employment opportunities for local people, and the profits are often drained away from the province. Such statements are certainly true of Kalimantan, especially East Kalimantan, where so much of the development has been of an enclave nature. Those who have benefited have been mainly immigrants, the majority of them urban. The interior Dayak population has shared little in this bonanza, hence rural poverty levels in that province have also remained rather high.

A recent BPS (1992) report on the characteristics of poor house holds notes that they were, in general, larger than average, with poor levels of education and primary sources of income from either agriculture or trade. A subsidiary report specific to West Kalimantan included the 27 variables used to classify villages as either "non-poor," "poor," or "very poor" by giving them a composite score. The variables covered such areas as village facilities and environment, level and ease of communications, and characteristics of the population such as birth and death rates and enrolments of school-age children. Using these scores, 52 per cent of West Kalimantan's 4,800 villages were classified as "poor," but only 27 were "very poor" (BPS, 1993). An atlas of poor villages published by the National Planning Development Agency, BAPPENAS (1993), using the same criteria, has placed large numbers of the interior villages in East Kalimantan and in the eastern part of Central Kalimantan in the "very poor" category.


The picture that emerges from these discussions of the nature of the urban places in Borneo, and of levels of poverty and relative deprivation, is a disturbing one. Despite the increased levels of industrial development, based largely on the exploitation of the island's resources of forests and minerals, the wealth generated has largely bypassed the indigenous populations of the interior, especially in Indonesian Kalimantan. Very few Dayaks live in the urban centres, except in Central Kalimantan, where industrial development is lowest. In Sabah and Sarawak the movement of indigenous people to the cities has been stronger, but most are still only marginally involved in the urban economy. In the East Malaysian states the capital cities are removed from the major industrial enclaves. In Sabah the competition from illegal immigrants for urban niches is strong and not slackening. Although rural-urban migration should not be essential for people's incomes to be raised above poverty levels, the existence of strong urban-rural differentials is a clear sign of stagnation and lack of opportunity in the rural areas. Although the logging industry has offered non-agricultural employment, in general wage levels available to locals have been low. A similar situation prevails in the newer plantation forests and, in Kalimantan, Javanese transmigrants are regularly brought in as a labour force to work these forests. Estates and land-settlement schemes in East Malaysia have likewise proved unattractive to indigenous people, although some in situ schemes for village improvement have shown possibilities. Even in better-off South Kalimantan, existing rural industries have been undermined by centralization and the all-embracing grasp of the large cartels on available resources.

A further disturbing feature is the indication of imminent decline in the sustainability of the industrial structure, based on actual shortages of raw materials. It has already become clear in Sabah that the forests will soon be unable to meet the demands of even the limited local market and the industries set up to serve it. Such indications have now also surfaced in both East and West Kalimantan, where log supplies are becoming more distant and more expensive to extract. So far, plantations are lagging and their timber, when it becomes available, will require different technologies leading to different outcomes. Sumatra, with some of its pulp and paper plants already in place and several more planned, is in a better situation than Kalimantan to face a future drop in the dominance of plywood. The oil industry too is feeling the impact of declines in exploration. Although natural gas and coal are still abundant, rapid rates of extraction will quickly lower their life expectancy.

Perhaps other activities such as eco-tourism offer better possibilities for the future and for the involvement of the indigenous people of the interior. Although Sarawak and Sabah are placing more emphasis in that direction than the Kalimantan provinces, in both Malaysia and Indonesia there has been a lack of sensitivity in the promotion and maintenance of minority cultural practices, which signals caution in proceeding too quickly.


1. Presumably this comes by sea. Neither Brookfield nor Potter has seen any evidence of timber transport on the road between Pontianak and Kuching.

2. The situation of the orange growers is a further example of the attempts to impose Jakartabased controls on particular industries, with serious effects on rural dwellers in Kalimantan. The insistence that all sawmills be attached to timber concessions led to numerous closures of small rural sawmills for lack of raw material, or their relocation in cities such as Banjarmasin where they at least had access to offcuts from the large plants. The banning of exports of rattan, while ostensibly to encourage local processing, resulted in a rapid decline in prices so that growers and collectors no longer harvested the product. This led to a shortage of raw materials for existing plants, which were themselves subject to severe controls on the quality of the processed item. Producers of rattan carpets in areas of the north Hulu Sungai, where the industry had been an important source of village income, suddenly found that export licences were available only to a few city factories. Although it was necessary to control overproduction for the main Japanese export market, the rural industry was almost wiped out as carpets became unsaleable except on local markets. It is worth noting that con siderable recent urbanization has occurred as a result of such dislocations of rural manufacturing.

3. However, Bock (1881: 23), who visited Samarinda in 1878, described it in his diary as "the most miserable place I have ever seen; the natives and their buildings correspond in squalor." There were houses on both land and water (on rafts), but all located close to or on the river. There were only two larger buildings, the Sultan's palace, a wooden, iron-roofed structure, run down because it was seldom occupied by the Sultan, who normally lived some kilometres away at Tenggarong, and the town governor's residence, which was the only substantial and well-furnished house in the town. "Everyone," Bock wrote, "is a trader," although presumably he excluded the poor from this statement.

4. All the log-exporting Chinese entrepreneurs operating on the coast of New Britain, Papua New Guinea, in 1991 came from Sibu (B. J. Allen, pers. comm.). Sibu entrepreneurs are also at work in the Solomon Islands. There are close family linkages among these small-scale timber-working companies, and they can accumulate the funds needed to reward Papua New Guinea political leaders for their granting of access to national resources.

5. There is something of a parallel here between urban investment in Malaysian Borneo during the modern timber boom and urban investment in Amazonian Brazil during the rubber boom from 1880 to 1912. Though less flamboyant, the Yayasan Sabah tower perhaps bears comparison with the famous opera house in Manaus.

6. Discussion is confined to Borneo. The situation in the eastern Peninsula is very different for the legal population, where only the Malay rice-and-rubber farming groups of the older agricultural regions still retain a high proportion below the official poverty line. However, the large population of illegal immigrants is in a different category, and there is no information whatever concerning them. The discussion regarding Sabah in this section may, however, well apply.

7. Literally "rulers (or sons) of the soil," this term applies to all members of ethnic groups supposedly indigenous to Malaysia. Chinese (and Indians) are excluded, including the "Straits Chinese" who have been present in the western Peninsula since the sixteenth century, much longer than some Malay groups such as the Minangkabau, most of whom have migrated to the Peninsula since the eighteenth century. The term also embraces the indigenous people of Malaysian Borneo. In terms of the New Economic Policy of 1970-1990, Bumiputera status conveyed significant advantages in terms of access to education, land, financial assistance in entrepreneurship, and government employment.


Bearing in mind the origins of this book, as described in the Introduction, we focus our treatment in this concluding chapter on trajectories through impoverishment and endangerment toward criticality. We do so on the basis of categories proposed by the project leaders at an authors' meeting in Mexico City in April 1993. Although it was too late for us to change the plan of the book at that stage, we have at least followed this helpful design, which we believe to be in common with other books in this series, in our Conclusion.

Environmental changes and impacts


The period of war, decolonization, nation-building, rebellion, and ethnic strife between 1941 and the mid/late-1960s represents such a divide in the history of this region that we draw a clear separation between what went before and what has since evolved. Much of the story recounted in this book has taken place in only some 30 years, not 50-70 as in other case-studies. However, we have also described change over the preceding century, devoting one whole chapter to this topic and making several other references to earlier events. Not only did a large part of the regional transformation take place during that previous century, but discussion of this quite recent past helps to put rapid changes of the post-1960 period into context. Historical evidence led to the methodological conclusion that trajectories can be reversed when driving forces and conditions undergo major change. One example is the strong suggestion of widespread cultivation, before the twentieth century, on land now heavily forested. A second is modern stabilization of land that has been eroded, first under annual cash crops, then under early estate rubber.

The most threatening environmental changes

The high rate of timber-cutting threatens both the environment and the life support of people dependent for employment on a fastwasting resource. In terms of effect on the environment, the greatest single threat is to biodiversity. In relation to the lowland forests, only quite limited but important reserve and national park areas still retain anything comparable with the biological diversity that once characterized the whole region. Within the former lowland forests some entire forest habitats have been eliminated. The actual loss of species, however, is quite unknown.

A greater threat, arising both from logging and from changes in shiftingcultivation practice, is, however, that due to fire, discussed in depth in chapter 8. As shown in chapter 9, it is even argued in some quarters that all Kalimantan (and, by inference, all Borneo) is on a trajectory that will turn the island into a fire-climax grassland. The fact that there are quite large grassland tracts even in those parts of the great island least affected by drought indicates that this is not wholly fanciful. Against this, however, is the evidence of substantial recovery from fires in the past, even those of 1982/83 (Wirawan, 1993). Kartawinata (1993) has suggested that fire might be an element in the formation and persistence of certain forest types in the region, as well as of grassland. It might thus contribute to diversity. We saw also in chapter 9 that maintenance of grassland for grazing purposes has been more significant than is sometimes supposed.

The real problem concerns the nature of fire. Fire burns the forest edge when used to clear swiddens or when it arises as wildfire in grassland, and thus may contribute to a slow erosion of the forest. However, there is strong evidence to suggest that it is the substantial litter created by timber-cutting that has been primarily responsible for the development of destructive crown-fires in close forest, and that normally these are rare. If forest management is improved, or if timber-cutting ceases to be economic, this hazard might diminish. Our judgement is that there is a very real probability that larger areas of grassland will be created, but that the prospect of a "green desert" replacing the rain forest over great tracts of Borneo and the Peninsula is unlikely in the extreme. Some areas are critical, more are endangered, but impoverishment (albeit serious) is the condition of most of the remaining forest. Moreover, there are big areas in which agro-forestry systems of varying degrees of intensity have taken the place both of forest and of swidden, and in these areas - largely without merchantable timber - there is now enhancement rather than degradation.

On the question of impoverishment of the soil by cultivation, evidence is even more equivocal. The most "impoverished" areas are on land of very low initial quality, principally but not only kerangas. We saw in chapter 1 that there is considerable variety in the soils of the region, and some of these have certainly proved to be very robust under use. Erosion has been heavy in the initial stages of new land clearance almost everywhere, but subsequent treecrop performance has often been good even though some annual cropping may have failed. Mining and its related practices have wreaked total devastation on some areas in the past, and small-scale mining continues to do a great deal of damage. Modern large-scale mining, because it is very recent, is more environmentally conscious. The worst erosion is nowadays almost everywhere along the roads, in modern times probably contributing far more than erosion from agricultural activities.

Events that have served as signals

All the really big damaging events in the recent history of this region have taken place during either drought or flood. It is during drought that the major fire outbreaks have occurred, and the major erosion episodes have been during periods of exceptionally heavy rainfall; in the Peninsula, where they are best documented, the major floods of 1926 and 1971 both had important impacts on agricultural and development practices. All these major events have occurred during extreme phases of the Southern Oscillation, either the droughtproducing El Niño or the flood-generating La Niña.

The extent to which such "natural disasters" have been treated as signals in this region is perhaps unusual. The Borneo fires were at once attributed to human cause, first to shifting cultivators and only later also to loggers. The heavy silt loads in the Peninsular flood events were readily seen as symptomatic of erosion due to mining or forest clearance and, by the 1970s, also to the urban construction boom that had already begun. However, we need to go beyond our immediate region to see the extent to which officials and scholars alike have been ready to look for underlying human causes of disaster, rather than focus attention on the immediate natural trigger. Between the mid-nineteenth and early twentieth centuries there were a number of locally severe famine events in Java, all or almost all of which occurred in relation to adverse weather conditions (Brookfield, 1993). However, both officials and politicians at the time, and subsequent academic interpreters, have focused on economic transformation, insensitive and rapacious policy measures, and impoverishment as the true causes of these events. The most widespread event, in 1902, led to both local and island-wide inquiries into the reasons for "declining welfare" (Commissie, 1903; Onderzoek, 1904-1914). Some changes in policy, and investment in irrigation, resulted from this concern.

More recently, torrential rain from a tropical storm crossing southern Thailand in 1988, to become a cyclone in the Andaman Sea, caused catastrophic flooding, landslides, and heavy mortality. Even though subsequent study has shown that most of the damage took place on land longcleared and cultivated, the popular and official reaction was to blame the timber industry. This led to an immediate ban on logging throughout Thailand. Moreover, though evasions continue to be tolerated, this ban has not been lifted. Regionally, this is perhaps the clearest example of a "signal" in modern experience.

The human driving forces

Population growth, migration, and the "frontier"

Borneo and the Peninsula have been regions of immigration from other areas throughout their history, but especially in the past two centuries. Actual demographic change among residents may have been quite variable well into the twentieth century, with areas of decline as well as of increase, but during the past 30 years fairly high growth rates have become universal. At the same time, large numbers have moved, or have been moved, into the former forest domain so as to relieve or escape poverty in adjacent regions of large population growth, outstandingly Java and Madura.

Peopling of the forests on this scale would not, however, have taken place so fast without the translation into policy of another driving force. Already in colonial times the forests of the region had come to be perceived as an underdeveloped frontier region for the territories that became Indonesia and Malaysia, especially the former. In the 1950s both countries developed plans for settlement in these forest lands and, from the 1960s through the first half of the 1980s, the "transmigration" and "land development" programmes of Indonesia and Malaysia were pursued with great vigour. At the same time, they also provided infrastructure and encouragement for substantial numbers of unassisted migrants to participate in the development of these national "frontier" regions. Sarawak, Sabah, and Brunei, with their immigration controls, were only partial exceptions because all three have also experienced large illegal immigration. Latterly, this has become the main single force of real population growth in Sabah and in many rural areas of the eastern Peninsula.

Nested driving forces: The world to the region

Colonialism made the region as a whole a major supplier of a small number of tropical agricultural products, and one mineral, to the world market. This demand and the capital investment that came with it were the underlying global driving forces of economic growth, much of population growth, and most territorial expansion of settlement in this region for the whole period to 1942. Moreover, these same external economic forces quickly became reestablished in the late 1940s, and continued to support a measure of expansion right through the disturbed period that did not end until the late 1960s. Once this period was over, growth on the same basis accelerated with the addition of the new large-scale demand for tropical timber, which had the greatest impact on the forest frontier.

Writing a generation ago, Brookfield with Hart (1971: 206-209) described the economy of the Melanesian region to the east in terms of the outermost ring in a von Thünen "isolated-state-world" centred on Europe and the North Atlantic. Much the same might have been said of this region of the world, at least before 1942 if not in the postwar and early independence periods. The goods produced for the heartlands of the "isolated-state-world" had low yield in weight after relatively high-cost processing, and suffered the least cost increase with distance away from the market (Hall, 1966: xxxviii, 183). Major post-1960 changes included first the replacement or augmentation of the North Atlantic market by Japan, then other parts of NorthEast Asia, so that the rapid industrial growth of North-East Asia was transmitted to our region as a major increase in demand, with a widening of the range of produce sought. An additional force then entered in the form of the so-called "new international division of labour," promoting industry based on the low labour costs of a populous region, but one with an aboveaverage basis of infrastructure and education. In the same period, first oil, then gas, expanded in production to become major new sources of export income, energy, and national revenue. The new strength of the national economies was such that it persisted beyond the decline in oil and gas prices in the 1980s, and has survived the collapse of tin - the main mineral export of the colonial period - almost without remark in most of the regional economic literature.

Escape from the "outermost ring"?

Because industrialization was seen as the best means of escape from the "outermost ring" dependence on primary-produce exports, it was strongly pushed forward by national governments, which - especially in Malaysia - put a major part of revenues into the support of industrial development. We reviewed the mixed success of the industrialization drive in chapter 3, noting there how it became a major driving force in Indonesian Borneo, but not at first in the Malaysian parts of the region. The outcome, however, is that the two national economies have become much more diversified, and have been able to mobilize and attract resources so as to sustain growth through a period of severe depression worldwide. We are now in a position where it can be said of South-East Asia as a whole that it has the prospect of being economically the fastest-growing region in the world through the 1990s (Kamal Salih, 1993).

Much of this book has been concerned with the manner in which these changing driving forces have become differentiated in their impact on different parts of Borneo and the Peninsula, and on different population groups within that region. It would be tedious to attempt to summarize. However, no part of the region, and no group, has remained wholly unaffected. Driving forces other than population growth still originate in the world economy, but are increasingly Asian rather than North Atlantic in origin. Attempts to internalize their management within the region, mainly through industrialization, have had notable but mixed success. Yet, because the forests and former forests of Borneo and the Peninsula remain "frontier" within their own countries, they in their turn have retained the status of "outermost ring" within the smaller and more differentiated "isolated world" of South-East Asia. We return to this question in our final section.


Fragile ecosystems and vulnerable groups

In the sense developed in the Appendix, the most important consideration in evaluating endangerment of the natural ecosystems of Borneo and the Peninsula lies in their resilience rather than in their sensitivity to interference. This is especially so in regard to the forests, which are all equally sensitive to the chain-saw, but differ greatly - and to a still largely unknown degree - in their natural ability to recover or in the ability of planted and regenerated forests, now beginning to be created, to flourish. Again, it is necessary to emphasize the considerable natural diversity of this region and also the differentiated impact of the driving forces discussed above. There is not one answer to the question of ecosystem fragility, but many. Parts of the region are damaged or made vulnerable to the point of criticality, but many others are in good condition. In the main, and by comparison with a semi-arid region or a region composed almost entirely of steeplands, this area is not fragile. The natural buffering capacity of most - not all - of its ecosystems can be overcome only by impacts of a very heavy order. A great part of the region has already endured a lot, and its natural buffering capacities are not destroyed.

In regard to people we can more readily recognize vulnerability. However, our order differs somewhat from that of most popular perception. A proportion of the indigenous tribal people has suffered greatly from development, and many more suffered both direct and indirect consequences of a severe order from their contact with outsiders in a pre-colonial and colonial past. In the main, however, the most striking conclusion to be drawn about these people, their culture, and their systems of resource use is the recognition of great adaptability. Most certainly they have not remained "unchanged," and will not so remain in the future. They will have to make do with less land and less usable natural biodiversity, and they must expect increased interference with their own decision-making. They cannot reasonably expect to retain control over the large areas required to support lowintensity economies in an increasingly crowded part of the world; moreover, most do not expect to do so. There remains a real danger that this interference will remain as insensitive to their needs, and their abilities, as it has been in the past, and if this happens their problems of adaptation will be a great deal harder than they need to be. But it would be a great error to suppose that they cannot adapt.

New classes of vulnerable people

Others are much more vulnerable. They include those Indonesian transmigrants who have been settled - and even continue to be settled - on worthless land; the only opportunity for these people lies in resettling themselves elsewhere or in seeking non-farming employment. However, the new vulnerable people also include the many migrants who now find employment in the timber and timber-working industries, which are based on wasting resources. We have seen that some have already been forced to move by the failure of small enterprises and by policy militating in favour of the larger businesses or centralization of industry. These people, and refugees from failed transmigrant schemes, may constitute the greatest threat to the natural ecosystem when they take up illegal logging and crude forms of shifting cultivation on land already exposed to weeds and erosion by logging. The real threat of a total collapse of parts of the timberworking industries is not so much to the well-diversified entrepreneurs as to their employees. The migrants among these often have little opportunity to return whence they came. Their vulnerability is that of becoming the poorest and most insecure of the region's people.

How far this category includes the large number of illegal migrants in the Malaysian parts of this region is less clear, and not only because there is an absence of data about these people. Those who work as agricultural labourers and sustain an industry that would collapse without them may be secure, at least at a low level of living. Some, especially in Sabah, have been able to secure rights to land themselves, and others may in time be able to blend into the national population, moving into town, as previous generations of agricultural labourers have, via the channel of the pert-urban shanty settlements. There are a very considerable number of such pert-urban people in both countries and around large towns in both the Peninsula and Borneo. Most of them can find some sort of economic support in low-paid employment or in the informal sector. Few, however, have adequate access to either clean water or sanitation, and most live and often work in environments hazardous to health. Some pert-urban environments, moreover, are even hazardous to physical life, being at high risk from flood or landslide.

The probability is that the number of people whose vulnerability is to poverty, insecurity, and hazardously substandard living and working environments will increase during the coming decade. Although the present rate of increase may be higher in Sabah than elsewhere, as the timber industry contracts it will probably increase faster in Kalimantan during the coming decade. Even a very rapid regional economic expansion is not likely to reduce the problem, for it will attract increasing numbers of migrants, both legal and illegal. Paradoxically, the major hope for a short-term reduction in this vulnerable population lies in economic success in the national heartlands in the western Peninsula and in crowded Java. In the long run, however, only a much more rapid rate of reduction in national population growth rates than now seems likely will lift the pressures that force people to the margin.

Societal response

Conclusions of a conference

In 1991 the United Nations University sponsored a conference in Yogyakarta, Indonesia, concerned with the environmental future of the region and the prospects for sustainability. All three of us were involved either in the conference itself, or in the book that has been produced from its deliberations (Brookfield and Byron, 1993). The conference concluded that not too much of what was being done in the region up to 1990 was truly sustainable, and several of its participants focused attention on the societal and governmental responses. In what follows we draw freely on these discussions, and especially on the contributions of Jefferson Fox, Francis Jana Lian, and Sham Sani, and the conclusion prepared by Brookfield. The discussion relates to the whole South-East Asian region, not only to Indonesia, Brunei, and Malaysia, and it refers to those last three countries as a whole. None the less, almost all that was said has direct application to this region.

The central problem is that, in their modern preoccupation with economic growth and gaining incomes, most of the region's people have treated the environment as a "common access," surrounding private property, into which wastes of any kind might be disposed, and into which downstream damages might be allowed to flow with impunity. Sets of traditional rules, common in the past and mainly governing access to property, had unintended conservationist consequences. In modern times these have increasingly been breached as the conditions surrounding property have changed through the acquisition of commercial value. Often, these breaches have been supported by the authorities because the consequence is seen to be an increase in production.

Modern institutions for environmental management have been created, but more through legislation than in practice. Departments responsible for the environment generally lack line responsibility; they can only advise, and their powers of enforcement are limited both by their small staffs and resources, and also because society and its legal system are unprepared to enforce penalties. Thus, for city factory owners for example, it may often be cheaper to pay the small fines that are rarely imposed than to take steps to reduce pollution from their activities. Throughout the systems, there are too many opportunities to divert outcomes in favour of individual or corporate, rather than social, interests.

Although this is changing, it is doing so very slowly. Awareness of environmental damage is not high among most of the region's people, except perhaps those who suffer most from its consequences but are without voice in society. The media do a good job, better than in some more developed countries, in exposing environmental issues, but the impact is mainly on a small, educated middle class, and not much on the wealthy and powerful or on the decision makers themselves. The larger issues, such as the waste of the forests, soil erosion, water and atmospheric pollution, and even the impoverishment and marginalization of those who fail to achieve benefits from economic growth, are not yet of wide concern. Foreign criticism, especially of forestry and minority issues, to which it is mainly directed, is more often resented than welcomed, and by ordinary people as well as by those whose interests are at stake. This foreign criticism, much of it only partly informed, does have some positive effect, but slowly, and in the meantime no small number of adverse consequences have been generated.

The political environment

Although both Malaysia and Indonesia - though not Brunei - have political systems based on regular elections, there is nothing resem bring the adversarial democracy of most Western countries. Crouch (1994) has traced the manner in which there has been a steady creep of authoritarianism within Malaysia's democracy, although without creating unresponsiveness to the wishes of groups who have a voice in the political system. Indonesia had a disastrous experience of coalition politics during the period of Sukarno's "guided democracy," with growing communist influence in national decision-making. After the 1965 coup there was at once a strong shift to directly authoritarian rule within Suharto's "New Order," and, though with some relaxation in recent years, this has persisted.

The effectiveness of strong control by national leaders depends on the quality of those leaders and, although there are many critics of both Malaysia's Mahathir and Indonesia's Suharto, there is general acceptance of the need for strong control in order to mobilize national resources, take major decisions, and avoid the divisiveness that can readily arise from schismatic politics in developing countries. On the other hand, political power readily becomes associated with economic power, and there is no question that corruption and cronyism are major forces in both countries; we saw this clearly in chapter 5. Moreover, resource exploitation is an area particularly prone to diversion of decision-making in favour of private interests, and no area is so liable to this as is the timber industry.

The combination of highly centralized political and economic power, the absence of effective political opposition, and a concentration of interest groups in the capital cities and other large urban regions of both countries means that environmental conservation and minority-group interests in the periphery rank low in terms of both awareness and priority. Pressure for change comes more from external critics, lobbying through powerful non-governmental organizations - especially those headquartered in Washington D.C. - to affect the policy of international financial institutions, than from internal critics. Its effectiveness therefore depends rather heavily on the degree of national dependence on the international financing institutions. Perhaps fortunately, this dependence is greatest in regard to big development plans in the periphery, which are too large and too remote from central national concerns to command priority finance from revenues.

Looking forward, much depends on the political changes that might accompany continued national economic growth or checks to that growth. Changes in national leadership are likely in both countries during the 1990s, but whether these will lead to real changes in the intertwined structure of politics with business cannot be foreseen. There are many who look for such change in both Indonesia and Malaysia, but at present they lack power. Perhaps the best hope is that the growing strength of the "state classes" that have grown up around government and its business allies will be mobilized to give voice to the openness of many of these secondlevel people to new ideas, and to their concern over the environmental as well as social future of their countries.

Rationalization of problems

In their summary of nine case-studies in the interim volume of this project, Kasperson, Kasperson, and Turner (1995) compare the rationalization of land degradation in East Africa with that of competing land uses in Borneo and the Peninsula, arguing that both are problem constructions that are related to broader state objectives. They are "part of the hazard construction and rationalization in which collective societal responses are lodged." Perhaps the real problem in the latter case, however, is the importance of resource exploitation in the national polity, and in the business interests of many who are close to the seats of power. If a "societal response" can be defined as one located firmly in the political system, then there is a societal response in Borneo and Peninsular Malaysia. However, only a small minority of the people of that region have a voice in the formulation of this response and, among those who have this voice, those from the region itself are in the minority. The only locus of truly independent decision-making is in Brunei, where wealth from oil and gas has made it easy to take conservationist decisions in regard to the small area of forest. In so far as there are centres of decision-making in Kuching and Kota Kinabalu, independent of Kuala Lumpur, they have mostly operated against meaningful conservation, because of the tight links with business interests to whom conservation is a cost and an impediment to the search for wealth. Most of the many thousands dependent on resource-using industries would support them. In Kalimantan there is no independent locus of decision-making in the larger issues of resource use; decisions are taken in Jakarta, and this is also true of the eastern Peninsula in relation to Kuala Lumpur. The real problem is to locate means of infusing new ideas at the very top.

The participants at the Yogyakarta conference (Brookfield and Byron, 1993) did identify such a means. They saw it in the reality of growing resource scarcity that is coming now to be perceived in the formulation of national development strategies for Indonesia and Malaysia as wholes. These strategies are shifting toward greater intensification in the use of national resources, rather than their continued exploitation as though they were without limit. However, we also noted, as in chapter 5 above, that the psychological ability of decision makers to push the growing reality of resource scarcity to one side is remarkable. This is in large measure because selfdeception is itself in the short-term interests of many close to the centres of national and state or provincial authority. We therefore look more for sudden and enforced change than for progressive change in our following discussion of trajectories.

Trajectories and regional dynamics change

Problems of aggregation

Were Borneo (including Brunei) and the Peninsular a uniform region, aggregation might be easy. However, it is a region of great natural diversity that includes parts of two nations. Within each there are big contrasts between the physically separate parts. We have shown that most of the economic driving forces of change are external, even to the extent that they are localized within Indonesia and Malaysia. We have also shown that the impact of these driving forces, and their consequences, is differentiated between areas of contrasted natural endowment, relative location in relation to the national heartlands, varying population densities and levels of urbanization, dissimilar ethnic, religious, and social composition, and - although broadly similar - far from identical policies toward national minorities. This differentiation of impact has increased strongly through the time-span of the past 30 years. Whether it is proper to force aggregation on our interpretation of the whole is an open question.

Kasperson, Kasperson, and Turner (1995) take a more globally comparative view, using the data in our interim report (Potter, Brookfield, and Byron, in press). Heroically, they show for Borneo and the Peninsula a steeply rising, but stabilizing trajectory of environmental interference, a steeply declining, then stabilizing trajectory of sustainability of use, and a steady improvement in aggregate wellbeing per capita. They do this not only on the basis of our data and interpretation, but also through comparison with the data presented by other contributors about other parts of the world.

At the end of this more extended report, we find that we could cautiously agree with this interpretation for the eastern part of the

Peninsula and perhaps some of the western part of Borneo (though over a much longer time-scale), but not for northern and eastern Borneo, where interference is still rising, sustainability is not being approached, and there are such great contrasts in the trajectory of welfare that no single aggregated curve is warranted. This simple twofold division, moreover, is at once further broken into four by the international boundary (even disregarding Brunei), for per capita well-being has increased much more, and more rapidly, on the Malaysian than on the Indonesian side. Even within Malaysian Borneo and Brunei there are contrasts in all respects between the three political units and within them. On the Indonesian side, the rising importance of minerals in East Kalimantan, and the persistence of an ancient rural economy in South Kalimantan, contrast sharply with what has happened in Central and West Kalimantan. And, even within the eastern Peninsula, there are similar contrasts between the dominantly rice-and-rubber regions of northern Kelantan and smaller parts of the other states, and the inland and southern areas of new settlement. Moreover, this region is physically contiguous with the booming west coastal region of the Peninsula, so that important urbanizing and industrial development has intruded in late years eastward from Kuala Lumpur to the new oil-based economy of the central part of the east coast and the tourism of parts of the coasts north of this, and in the east of Johor.

To draw back from this diversity we have also to draw back in time, to a region that was, as a whole, a very similar mix of valley and coastal rural settlement and forested inland less than a century ago, in the Peninsula and Borneo alike. As first one piece, then another, has been chopped out of this generalizable region and made into something different, we find ourselves drawn to a different conclusion about trajectories. We posit that the strongest effect of the driving forces has been to create diverse regional and local responses. To go on from this, we can turn only to the areas that retain most of the old mix, in limited parts of Borneo. In these we find trajectories of change that are still not approaching any stabilization. When they do, as they will, we expect to find that differentiation has further diversified and has given further defiance to aggregation.

Trajectories, reversals, or cusps?

Our second problem in discussing trajectories is temporal rather than spatial. First is the major divide of the troubled period between 1941 and the late 1960s, before and after which driving forces, their strength, and the pace of change were of a radically different order. Uniform regional trajectories cannot be drawn across this period, even though the same global driving forces persisted. Second is the relatively minor problem of historical reversals, mainly an object lesson in attempting to project from present trends. Third, then, is the major problem. Given the analysis above, how are we to project from recent and current trends into even the short-term future?

The political analysis in the preceding section suggests a gloomy prognosis for the environment, yet we also noted considerable change due to a growing perception of scarcity. This has gone further, by far, in the Peninsula, where strong pressure for improved resource management has developed in recent years, with real effect. Elsewhere in the region, wherever logging and other forms of resource use remain the major force, talk of better management remains principally just that; enforcement is lacking. However, we can note that real scarcity hits quite suddenly, and that when it does it produces something more like a cusp in attitudes and behaviour than a smooth trajectory.

There are some important models of change in behaviour in SouthEast Asia, though not specific to this region. The decision to clean up the Singapore environment was taken quite suddenly, and implemented over not much more than a decade. The 1986 decision swiftly to phase out pesticides and introduce integrated pest management in the wet-rice regions of Java was taken in much less time, in a single season, and it was fully implemented in only two. The trigger was a crisis in pest infestation and the realization that the policies of two decades had to be reversed (Fox, 1993). In Malaysia, the decision to abandon the policy of state-managed land development was taken over a period of only some four or five years after 1985; it was implemented, abruptly, in 1991.

We discussed the role of signals above. Not all the examples required clear environmental signals, though economic signals were an important factor in the last-named case. Realization of a problem can also build, and quite swiftly, to the point of making a decision to change. In these centralized political systems, without need to convince oppositions, such decisions can be taken fast. Both Malaysia and Indonesia have taken several such decisions in the course of their industrialization programmes, when particular strategies were found to be proving ineffective. The possibility of such cusp-like reversals is a part of the decision-making environment in this region. However, they are extremely hard to predict. Although we would expect sharp policy reversals, even in the area of resource exploitation in the region, to take place during the coming decade, this is an area in which resistance from business and its political allies is particularly strong.

Conclusion: What of the future?

For three decades, Borneo and Peninsular Malaysia have been "resource frontiers" to the two nations, and it has suited local as well as central interests to hold regional development on this path. Their rising importance as a source of energy is likely to encourage persistence of this pattern, though with reduced dependence on timber and land for settlement, and greater emphasis on high-technology extraction and downstream treatment of energy and minerals, and perhaps also hydroelectricity. This transformation will generate less, but much higher-paid, employment, and is likely to create a fourfold division of society and economy into a booming energy and mineral sector and its servants, a contracting timber sector, a large and mainly poor rural population, and the embattled, but adaptive, minority people of the interior. Such a pattern is likely also to be accompanied by increasing urbanization, especially in Borneo; urban development in the Peninsula is likely to remain concentrated in the west.

If, however, aggregate welfare is dominated by the welfare of the rural and pert-urban majority, it is unlikely to grow rapidly, and might decline. This decline would indirectly be due to the unsustainable rate of timber exploitation and to the agricultural occupation of lands of mediocre-to-low quality by farmers who cannot readily adapt to these conditions. The trajectory of environmental change, in consequence of declining welfare as well as the cause of it, may therefore continue to rise, and that of sustainability to decline. In at least parts of the region, impoverishment and endangerment may degenerate toward criticality. Environmental change in this region is embedded in resource management that is exploitative and unsustainable. Unless this changes, degradation of resources and declining welfare for the majority are likely to go hand in hand. If it is to change, it should do so soon.

Forms of criticality

Criticality in PROCEZ

Since "criticality" first came into use in the literature on global environmental change, the term has acquired a rather diverse set of meanings, as Kasperson et al. (1990) have demonstrated in a review that traces the use of the term from the early 1970s.~ Arguing that neither purely biophysical nor anthropocentric bases of definition capture what is involved, they initially proposed the following working definition (Kasperson et al., 1990: 16): a continuous portion of the earth's surface, preferably larger than 5,000 km2, constituting a habitat in which human occupation has so changed multiple components of the environment that the quantity and quality of those uses and/or the well-being of the population cannot be sustained, given feasible socio-economic and/or technological responses.

In their revision, however, they focus attention on stages of degradation, being "a decrease in the capacity of the environment as managed to meet its user demands" (Kasperson et al., 1995: 7). They therefore distinguish between "environmental impoverishment," in which the trajectory in the medium to longer term threatens to narrow the range of possibilities for human use, "environmental endangerment," in which the trajectory threatens in the near term to preclude the continuation of current human use systems, and true "environmental criticality" in which this preclusion of continuation of current human use systems is immediate (Kasperson et al., 1995: 25).

On the basis of our earlier, interim assessment of the trajectory in Borneo and the Peninsula (there termed the eastern Sundaland region), Kasperson, Kasperson, and Turner (1995) class this region as among those "endangered" rather than "critical." In the present much fuller review we have explored this assessment as profoundly as we can. We accept that "endangerment" is probably the limit of the effect of present trends. However, we have retained the question of "criticality" in relation to two areas in which current trends are believed to have important global impact: the reduction of biodiversity and the effect of tropical deforestation on global warming. Neither of these was closely considered in our interim statement, and both are excluded from the general discussion of that statement by Kasperson, Kasperson, and Turner. In this Appendix we explore some of the general issues that have, over the life of the PROCEZ project, been raised within and around it. They have had an effect on the strategy we have employed in our analysis.

Types of global environmental change

Turner et al. (1990) separate the types of global environmental change, such as might lead toward criticality, into two classes: "systemic" changes, which are of global domain, however caused, and "cumulative" changes, initially of local domain but which, in combination, have an impact extending from regional to global. Global climatic change is representative of the first, although the worldwide drive for economic development could also be regarded in this category. Deforestation is a prime example of the second, and it is deforestation that is generally seen as the cause of endangerment or criticality in that part of the South-East Asian region discussed here. This approach, which is fairly strongly anthropogenic, to a large degree explains the selection of "case-studies" reported in Kasperson, Kasperson, and Turner (1995). They concern a set of areas in which different aspects of severe human impact on the environment are exhibited, each with a different local set of driving forces. The driving forces in our region are summed up as mainly external though we have had some reason to question this assessment - and the trends bringing about "endangerment" arise principally from deforestation.

As we embarked on our task, we found problems with the def inition of "criticality" initially presented to us. As stated in the Introduction, we saw ourselves as writing a test of criticality in the PROCEZ sense, rather than an account of any demonstrably critical situation. We found it necessary to break the analysis of "criticality" into parts, and even to break the specific question of the effects of deforestation into parts. The downgrading of our test to one of "endangerment" perhaps made this strategy even more appropriate, since it more readily permits relative rather than absolute judgements.

We retain, however, some problems with the attempt to combine the geophysical with the human in a single assessment. In our region, some elements of environmental process are certainly sharpened in their effects by human activity. Other parts of our analysis relate almost wholly to human forces, and the specific nature of the environment other than being part of the hot, wet, and developing tropics is of minimal significance. We therefore feel it necessary to analyse the general issue of criticality, and the track toward it, in order to clarify the argument of our book.

Environmental criticality

A more restricted approach

Although we have differed only in degree from the design proposed by the PROCEZ core-group in presenting our material, our view is that the usefulness of the concepts of "environmental criticality" and the stages leading toward it may suffer if they are not also defined more precisely in strictly environmental terms. We write principally of "criticality" in order to avoid confusion. We agree that a state called "environmental criticality" can arise only in the presence of people, for it is, like resource degradation, a concept that can have meaning only in relation to resident human occupation of a part of the biosphere. However, environmental criticality (and likewise "impoverishment" and "endangerment") should be reserved to mean criticality of the biophysical environment, and not simply that of the people who live in it. A less specific condition of criticality can be said to exist if the health, livelihood, and welfare of the occupiers are at risk, but this is environmental criticality only if a hazard arises from causes that are either embedded within the natural environment or arise from changes that have taken place in that environment. This wider meaning can shade too readily into endangerments of another kind, those that arise from the lifestyle, activities, or poverty of people, from malfunction of the economy, or - at another level - from proximity to wastedisposal outlets or defective industrial plants; the criticality facing the people who died and suffered at Bhopal and around Chernobyl is an example of the latter category. Although these hazards exist in a broadly defined natural "environment," they cannot properly be regarded as environmental. Those resulting from purely human cause may make environmental criticality worse, but they are not themselves necessarily part of that criticality. Problems arise immediately if we fail to make this distinction.

Identifying environmental impoverishment, endangerment, and criticality

Even with this restriction, these terms are not easy to define and, except in extreme cases, nor are the conditions easy to recognize in practice. "Criticality" does not properly describe an environment in a short-lived state of crisis brought about by some unusual or recurrent event, such as a hurricane or earthquake. An environment that is merely badly managed is not necessarily in a critical or even impoverished condition. Nor should these terms be used to describe generally degraded but still productive landscapes, of which there are a great many in the world. It is important to decide whether an environment that is particularly vulnerable to damage is necessarily likely to become "critical." If it is being adequately managed, so that the risk of damage is minimized, it may become severely degraded only under exceptional natural conditions.

A related group of concepts

Such terms as "sensitivity," "resilience" or "ability to recover," and "vulnerability" or "fragility" are additionally in need of sharper definition, and this is necessary if "criticality" itself is to be properly defined. These terms are older in scientific use than "criticality" and, moreover, they generally refer specifically to the physical environment. A discussion of the meanings and the interrelationships will pave the way for progress.

In writing of the problems of land degradation some years ago, Blaikie and Brookfield (1987:10) proposed that "sensitivity" should mean "the degree to which a given land system undergoes changes due to natural forces, following human interference."2 This was not wholly adequate, especially in the wider sense introduced by PROCEZ. Human activity does more than just release or accelerate natural forces; it also introduces new elements and, in modern times, chemical elements to which the land may vary significantly in sensitivity. Moreover, what we seek to describe is sensitivity only to adverse environmental change; deposition by "warping" of riverine or estuarine silt within managed embanked basins is a change immediately brought about by the natural causes of flood and tide, but we would not use the term "sensitivity" in this context.

Sensitivity and fragility

The distinction between "sensitivity," a general term, and the more specific term "fragility" is important. Jodha (1990: 2) has usefully defined a "fragile" resource as one "which cannot tolerate the degree of disturbance implied by the intensity of use associated with specific usage." Jodha refers specifically to unstable mountain slopes in the Himalayas and to rain-fed, semi-arid regions in northern India. His apparent meaning, in more precise terms, is that these environments have, under human use, very high sensitivity, respectively, to the erosivity of heavy rain and to drought. What makes them "fragile" is a combination of this high sensitivity with the intensive use to which they are subjected. The net effect is to make present forms of usage unsustainable.

Within the South-East Asian region, the area that most readily comes to mind in such a context is the uplands of Java, where a large literature alleges high rates of anthropogenic erosion, implying an environment that is "fragile" in Jodha's specific context (e.g. Donner, 1987; Seckler, 1987; Palte, 1989; Hardjono, 1991). Nibbering (1991a, 1991b), however, shows that even massive erosion can be brought partly under control by management, as it is to a great degree similarly controlled by agricultural terracing in the Nepal Himalayas (Ives and Messerli, 1989). Moreover, high erosion rates reflect an abundance of weathered material available to be eroded, and, once this is reduced, the rate will in any case diminish. If the land becomes agriculturally unusable, then it was indeed "fragile," but in Java this does not seem to be the case except over small areas. We have seen that severe erosion has also taken place in parts of our region. However, use of the term "fragility" may have been too strong; the quality of what remains is also important, and so is the ability of the land, and its plant cover, to be restored.

Resilience, or ability to recover

Following Holling(1978: 11), "resilience" is the "property that allows a system to absorb and utilize (or even benefit from) change." Blaikie and Brookfield (1987) use it rather differently, meaning essentially the ability of a land system to recover spontaneously after interference, and especially after damaging interference. Ives and Messerli (1989: 241) describe resilience as "the generalized ability of a system to cope with the unexpected," but they are referring to people-environment systems, and thus classify the rapid repair of landslide damage in the middle hills of Nepal as an example of "resilience." This seems, once more, to confuse two rather different issues, although the Ives and Messerli definition can remain useful in its application to natural systems alone.

A distinction should be drawn between the response to interference or shocks of different sorts: physical, chemical, and biological. For example, landforms built from very competent rock may have low sensitivity to physical damage, and recover well from such damage as does take place, yet some soils may readily become impoverished, and biodiversity may recover only very slowly and poorly after interference. In this sense these land systems, taken as a whole, are not resilient. Landforms very prone to slope failure, on the other hand, clearly exhibit high sensitivity to this form of damage, yet in smaller landslips the soils might even be improved by the pedoturbation (turning over of the soil), and a good vegetation cover might quickly become established (Humphreys and Brookfield, 1991). Such sites are "resilient" even in Holling's rather specific sense, yet remain at high risk of new physical failure, sensitive to any severe rainfall event. Clearly, a useful approach might be to draw up matrices of sensitivity to different forms of damage and of resilience or ability to recover following shocks of different types.

Taken together, however, sensitivity and ability to recover can be used to define the natural conditions that might, more or less readily, lead to something like "criticality" under interference or shock. All forests are equally sensitive to interference by chain-saw, but their soils differ widely in sensitivity to exposure, and the forests themselves differ in their ability to recover. Where soils are particularly sensitive to erosion and impoverishment, so that forest cannot recover after clearance, the outcome of even a single natural or humangenerated shock might be a degraded and almost useless landscape, very vulnerable to further damage by erosion and fire. In other forest environments, however, only massive and repeated interference would yield such a result. As we have seen, this may be the case in at least large parts of the region discussed in this book.

Buffering capacity, and a redefinition of "fragility"

Natural differences in sensitivity and ability to recover are fundamental and interrelated. They depend on climate, geology and topography, and available energy, as well as on the existing stock of biota. Together, these determine the "buffering capacity" of the biosphere and its inequalities from place to place and, to a lesser degree, also through time. When we speak of a "fragile environment" we should mean, essentially, one in which the collective buffering capacity in face of all or most forms of interference is limited. Contrary to Jodha's (1990) definition, this does not mean that such an environment can sustain only light use, for such light use might itself cause severe damage. Some of the most "fragile" environments demand intensive use of conservation practices in their management, which are difficult to sustain except under high productivity or with large expenditure of resources. Their condition may become "critical" if these inputs are reduced or withdrawn. By contrast, environments in which the buffering capacity is high can sustain more casual systems of management under a wide range of intensities, at least under normal conditions, and for a long time. To use degrees of "fragility" scaled in relation to the total buffering capacity of a system would follow logically. Moreover, such an approach would acknowledge the role of good management of resources in intensive use.

Environmental criticality defined in terms of imminent breakdown

It should follow from this discussion that "endangerment" or "criticality" ought to mean that there is a condition of, respectively, threatened or imminent crisis/breakdown in the natural or humanassisted buffering capacity of a fragile system. Such a crisis could be demonstrated in several ways. One is by catastrophic failure to meet production goals that were earlier attained, coupled with severe degradation of soil and water, as in the Amu Darya and Aral Sea case in central Asia (Kotlyakov, 1991), which Kasperson, Kasperson, and Turner (1995) conclude to be a region truly in a state of

"criticality. " Another is by a major increase in erosion, salinization, or acidity, coupled with rapid pauperization of the biota, as in a forest region that quickly becomes transformed into established lowdiversity grassland after clearance and burning, open to further degradation by exposure and erosion. There are such conditions in our region. The essence of "environmental criticality" therefore lies in environmental changes that threaten greatly to reduce the lifesupport capacity of a sizeable region on a long-term basis. Properly, such a loaded term as "criticality" should be reserved for situations in which problems of an unusual order of severity are currently or imminently encountered.

This differs from the PROCEZ core-group definition in its emphasis on the state of the environment itself, irrespective of the degree of human pressure on, and transformation of, that environment. Moreover, as Kasperson, Kasperson, and Turner (1995) note, in all but the Amu Darya-Aral Sea case studied by PROCEZ, there has generally been an improvement in aggregate human welfare. But this does not mean that there is no critical situation in the biophysical environment. There are elements of the biophysical environment of Borneo and the Peninsula that are indeed in a critical condition, especially from a greatly increased hazard of fire. Defining criticality in terms of the biophysical environment is to expose the fact that the need for remedial action is urgent, whatever the state of human welfare at the present time.

One could perhaps also write of a "post-critical" system in which no remedial action that is within even possible bounds of cost is feasible: a region of "badlands" or a totally decertified area would be examples. Whether or not the destruction of a large part of the oldgrowth rain forests of Malesia constitutes a condition of "postcriticality" has been discussed in this book. More commonly, some form of repair, or at least adaptation of usage, is possible in most environmentally critical regions. In a seemingly totally decertified region, exclusion of all grazing fauna would lead to some restoration of vegetation. Even in the Amu Darya and Aral Sea case, an obvious example of true environmental criticality, a set of quite simple remedial actions could undo some of the damage, although total repair would require major change in the use of land and water, at a cost clearly prohibitive under present economic and political conditions in the region. Repair of criticality, however, demands a proper understanding of causation, and this requires a major intellectual wrench abandoning the common assumption that a self-evident proximate cause is also the whole cause of the problem (Brookfield, in press).

Causation of environmental criticality

We have argued that environmental criticality is a property of the biophysical environment under use, but of the natural environment none the less. Its impacts on people and livelihood are symptomatic, not central. Given the enormous scale of modern human interference, the causes of environmental criticality might well lie squarely in that interference, but this is by placing the buffering capacity under excessive stress, by breaking all the unwritten and often unknown rules for the management of fragility. Beyond the proximate cause in most, if not almost all, cases is a set of underlying causes or conditions. The burden of the present argument is that these conditions vary through space and time, and that it is either exposure of, or pressure on, the most sensitive and least resilient systems that triggers environmental criticality and its approach.

There are some cases in which the biophysical share in the causation of criticality is greater than in others, and we have already discussed one such in the Himalayas. Another is the sustained decline of rainfall in the Sahel region from the 1960s to at least the 1980s. It might be true that the explanation of the 1973 famine was to be found in the "economic and social situation prevailing in the 1960s, before the drought" (Garcia, 1981: 191). The subsequent chronic criticality of the Sahel region cannot, however, be so unicausally explained. There was a long-term secular or cyclic decline (by as much as a quarter) in the rainfall of the most sensitive areas, as well as social and political failures that made its impact far worse and made efforts at management almost impossible.

The underlying biophysical causes of criticality should not be overemphasized, but they cannot safely be ignored. Criticality is brought about by human pressures of a level inappropriate to the conditions, and by unwise management in conjunction with natural sensitivity and low resilience. Sometimes, the natural conditions themselves are of major significance. Moreover, this consideration gains force from the modern context in which environmental criticality is most often discussed, that of the unknowns of global climatic change. For, as Parry (1990) has warned, those parts of the agricultural world where production is marginal or that currently exhibit environmental crit icality are those that are most likely to experience much greater problems of adaptation in a warmer world.

Implications of PROCEZ criticality

One interpretation of PROCEZ

Writing within a simulated "history" to 1996 of research on the human dimensions of global environmental change, based on work principally in or from the United States - completed by 1991, Rockwell and Moss (1992:14) gave a prominent place to PROCEZ. They described its aims and hypotheses in these terms:

The project focuses on whether and how environmental degradation leads to deterioration in human health and well-being. Because human occupation inevitably leads to some degree of environmental change, the project has sought to understand the causes and effects of degradation, perceptions of its occurrence, and responses to it.

In distinction from the PROCEZ core-group, Rockwell and Moss were, it seems, implying that degradation itself is the mark of criticality. In this sense, major degradation of land cover does, or should, constitute a state of affairs that might be linked with decline in the quality of human life. This, therefore, returns us to a central aspect of the PROCEZ inquiries, which is the connection between adverse environmental change and declining quality of life support.

Interpretation in the context of PROCEZ criticality

We therefore had to approach our problem from two sides. On the one hand, we sought what in this case-study might constitute environmental endangerment approaching criticality, and asked how this affects human welfare. On the other, we had to inquire into declining life-support capacity itself, where that can be identified, and inquire how far this might be related to environmental degradation, broadly or narrowly conceived. The question of perception of, and response to, endangerment also became important. However, what should seemingly be excluded from "criticality" are environmental changes that cannot be regarded as causing degradation of lifesupport capacity, and deterioration of human health and well-being that cannot be explained in terms of environmental degradation. These are complex issues.

Our response to this set of challenges has been to place emphasis on changes, positive and negative, in the state of human welfare. While doing this, however, we linked the argument at all stages to changes in the environment, and specifically discussed evidence of degradation, whatever its effects. To do this more effectively, we looked beyond the immediate scene and also examined change in the historical past. This enabled us to see that trajectories can be reversed, and that variation, as well as secular change, is important. We tried to be rigorous in making linkages between human change and environmental change, and also attempted to separate proximate causes from underlying causes of change. In this way we hoped to avoid simplistic conclusions.

Social breakdown, conflict, and environmental criticality

Rockwell and Moss (1992: 14) went beyond the aims of PROCEZ, and (without consultation with the project principals) also hazarded a guess at its conclusions. Projecting notionally into the future, they went on:

The project has explored such tentative generalizations as the hypothesis that environmental degradation leads to socioeconomic decline only within areas that are dependent on primary production and that are not substantially engaged in trade with other areas; in more economically open systems, environmental degradation apparently has to reach catastrophic proportions before it precipitates socioeconomic decline.

This conclusion certainly does not emerge from our case-study, nor does it seem to emerge from any of the others in PROCEZ. We have to presume that it is a hypothesis of Rockwell and Moss, and regret that they attributed it to this group of scholars in so prominent a place as the journal Environment. However, in being thus bold, they were linking our project to wider concerns prevailing among some social scientists who have considered the consequences of climatic and other forms of change. Their views are both important and influential. It is therefore worth while to digress and examine this "finding" more closely.

The idea that human-induced environmental pressures, when on a major scale, may have consequences that will so disrupt society as to affect national and even international security has been voiced by a number of prominent writers (e.g. Gleick,1989; Mathews, 1989; Myers, 1989b). Most agree that, although the greatest such problems threaten the developing countries, they have potential impact worldwide, not least through the effects of conflict both within and between countries, and even between developing and developed worlds as a whole.3 Homer-Dixon (1991) reviewed the arguments and some of the evidence, focusing on conflict that involves the possibility of violence. Environmental change in the poorer countries will, arguably, lead to increased scarcity, thence to conflict arising from relatively greater deprivation in some groups than in others. The consequence will be refugee flows that will cause the better off to defend their resources, and hence their ethnic or social identity, and to problems of distributive justice that may be resolved, in the short term, by repression. One can see more evidence of this in the growing West European resistance to refugees from poorer regions lying east and south than in the developing world itself. Assuming that the theory is correct, however, it would seem to follow that the early identification of the most critical zones and most vulnerable people is in everyone's interest.

When we come to seek evidence in the contemporary Southern world, however, there are problems.4 Where environmental stress can plausibly be associated with conflict, it is more as trigger than as underlying cause. In the Horn of Africa and the Sudan, to cite the starkest of examples, distress induced by drought and land-resource degradation has been palpable for most of the past 20 years, during which long-running civil wars and large-scale refugee movements have afflicted at least three countries. But although there has certainly been an interplay of environmental stress with conflict, it is not at all clear which is the basic cause; for example, famine in 1972-1974 may have been the proximate trigger of the Ethiopian revolution, but the seeds of conflict were already present.

Conflict and social breakdown may arise specifically from pressures and disasters as proximate causes. However, the underlying causes lie elsewhere. The contemporary problems of the underdeveloped countries are due most fundamentally to underdevelopment itself, and only then to population and economic pressure on the resources available for use and on the degradation of those resources. Cases in which degradation affects human health and welfare can certainly be identified, but in complex association with other causes. In no case can social breakdown yet be unequivocally attributed to degradation, or even to environmental catastrophe alone. Criticality, whether strictly environmental or as defined by PROCEZ, cannot be given so deterministic a role in human affairs.

Endangerment, criticality, and this case-study

What has been relevant?

The problems of interpretation discussed in this Appendix have significance for the manner in which we presented and analysed environmental and societal change in our region. There is heavy pressure on natural resources (forest resources in particular), but also on some soils and increasingly on energy sources. For the species-rich natural forests themselves this impact is certainly critical, and for large areas may already be post-critical. For other elements of the biosphere the impact is, as we saw, far more patchy and uncertain.

The extent to which resource depletion threatens human occupancy and well-being is problematical and selective, especially since this region is "frontier" to a wider and more populous area in which economic development and social improvement are advancing apace. In so far as there is endangerment or criticality in these latter respects, we found that it flows as much from the development strategy itself, and its differential impact on the region's people and industries, as from environmental change.

Two widely publicized aspects of the situation in this region were, however, important. One is the effect of deforestation on biodiversity and on global climate, both matters of wide extra-regional concern. The other is alleged criticality for the forest-dwelling people and their livelihood. A third, of less widespread international concern, is the sustainability of new activities made possible by forest depletion and degradation. All these are areas in which a strictly environmental criticality, as we define it, has potential importance, and we gave some prominence to the identification, or refutation, of such environmental criticality in our analysis. However, the dominant force is economic development, together with population growth in what is still, in the main, a sparsely peopled region. In so far as the state of economy and of welfare are indicators, we could not ignore the evident fact that their main determinants lie outside the environmental sphere. In writing a report on a PROCEZ case-study, we were therefore concerned with the interplay between rapid but uneven economic and social change, the biophysical environment that it affects, the changes taking place in that environment, and societal consequences, both within the region and beyond it.


1. The first part of this Appendix draws substantially on ideas presented in a paper by Brookfield, written in 1992 for publication in a collection edited by N. F. Glazovsky intended to be published by the Institute of Geography, Russian Academy of Sciences. Up to the time of completion of the present book, this publication has still not appeared.

2. In their revisions, Kasperson, Kasperson, and Turner (1995) draw quite heavily on some of the definitions proposed by Blaikie and Brookfield (1987), albeit with some modifications, most of which Brookfield would accept. The present discussion, however, still stands in its own right and only necessary changes have been made.

3. We perhaps witnessed such a conflict in verbal form in the preparations for the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development in 1992. In a preliminary meeting of the developing countries at Kuala Lumpur in April, the Prime Minister of Malaysia was a prominent advocate of a developing country view that was hostile to the developed lands regarding the distribution of responsibility for global environmental protection.

4. Here we draw on discussion at a workshop on "Environmental Change, Economic Decline, and Civil Strife," organized by the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the University of Toronto, and held at the Institute of Strategic and International Studies in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, in November 1991. Brookfield's arguments, voiced at the meeting but unpublished, are reflected here.


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